Looking Glass: The next ‘bright idea’ from Mozilla (updated)

Back in the day, Firefox was sort of a hackers power browser that fit a niche market. It was probably the most tweakable mainstream web browser on the planet for both geeks and average users alike. Although it is still highly customizable, it has become less so since Mozilla decided to terminate support for so-called “legacy” add-ons and replace them with WebExtensions of the same type as used by Google Chrome. Matter of fact, Firefox has become a Google Chrome clone as far as i’m concerned and some of us — a core Firefox audience that liked running something different and something that wasn’t ‘Googlized’ — didn’t want anything to do with Google, much less their Chrome web browser.

In its [not so] slow, steady decline and separation from its core values, Mozilla has dumbed-down Firefox to the point where it is hardly recognizable and changed its add-on API several times, thus forcing developers to rewrite their code in order to comply with yet another new standard. The developer of the much loved Search WP extension had this to say:

I’d love to support Firefox 57 (with all my extensions) but

1) Webextensions are just *too* limited. You simply can’t do anything useful with them until somebody adds an API just for you. It already starts with the most basic functionality of SearchWP: there does not seem to be a way to modify the search bar.

2) Mozilla ruthlessly breaking all existing extensions on purpose and removing customization possibilities with every new version of Firefox made me loose trust in the foundation and the browser itself – I’m not willing to spend my spare time on a project that has set a course that goes against everything Firefox once stood for.

And the stupidity continues…

For some time Mozilla has been packaging extensions with Firefox in the form of system add-ons, or “features” as Mozilla calls them. Not only is the option to uninstall these add-ons absent from the user interface, but most people aren’t even aware they exist since they’re hidden from the Add-Ons panel (if you want to know more about system add-ons and how to remove them, read the article, Firefox Configuration Guide for Privacy Freaks and Performance Buffs).

In its latest burst of stupidity, Mozilla is now installing yet another add-on without consulting users, but this time, to their undeserved credit, they have made it removable apparently. ‘Looking Glass‘ appears to be some kind of metrics collection add-on disguised as an augmented reality game created by the PUG Experience Group, whoever the hell they are, and it is part of a series of “Shield Studies” conducted by Mozilla. To see what studies Mozilla has foisted upon you that you didn’t agree to, enter about:studies in the address bar and then about:preferences#privacy to opt out. Better yet, stop using the Mozilla version of Firefox altogether.

Of course adding this unwanted crap to Firefox isn’t the worst of it. A while back, Mozilla decided that it needed to jump on the “fake news” bandwagon with its newly created Mozilla Information Trust Initiative in order to steer you away from sources of information that the multi-million dollar Mozilla Foundation decides are not suitable for your consumption.

I no longer suggest using Firefox, at least not the version distributed by Mozilla. If you want Firefox with the privacy disrespecting garbage removed, consider using Waterfox, which is a more privacy-centric, 64 bit fork of Firefox that will apparently continue to support XUL (legacy) extensions in addition to the newer WebExtensions. Some of the features of Waterfox are:

  • Disabled Encrypted Media Extensions (EME)
  • Removed Pocket
  • Removed Telemetry
  • Removed data collection
  • Removed startup profiling
  • Allow running of all 64-Bit NPAPI plugins
  • Allow running of unsigned extensions
  • Removal of Sponsored Tiles on New Tab Page

UPDATE: Mozilla apologizes.

On 18-Dec., after many users complained about the inclusion of the Looking Glass add-on, for which almost nothing was known at the time it was distributed, Mozilla published an apology, moved the add-on to the Mozilla add-on repository and published the source code. The post opened with the following nonsensical statement which raises more questions than it answers:

Over the course of the year Firefox has enjoyed a growing relationship with the Mr. Robot television show and, as part of this relationship, we developed an unpaid collaboration to engage our users and viewers of the show in a new way: Fans could use Firefox to solve a puzzle as part of the alternate reality game (ARG) associated with the show.

Does this sound remotely like anything that should be included in an internet web browser? What is the nature of Mozilla’s relationship with Mr. Robot? We already know that Mozilla has a habit of adding unnecessary functionality through its inclusion of 3rd party services for monetary gain and using its relationships with many privacy destroying corporations, such as Google, to monetize necessary functionality, yet they packaged the Looking Glass add-on with Firefox for no other reason other than, what? They like Mr. Robot? They wanted to make sure you weren’t bored by giving you a game to play? Utter bullshit. And why wasn’t the source code published before the add-on was shipped? And how do we know that the published code is identical to the unpublished code?

The rollout did not meet the standards to which we hold ourselves causing concern that was surfaced through our Firefox community.

Yes it did because Mozilla sacrificed its standards long ago. The only reason they published this apology is because enough users complained.

We received feedback regarding the transparency of the rollout and the processes that govern our auto-install mechanism for add-ons. In response we immediately started our internal review, […]

Good thing most users have no clue about the several system add-ons and “features” that ship with Firefox which are forcefully installed, activated, not easily uninstalled, and are used to collect data. Of course we know that no internal review will be performed to address this glaring privacy issue.

We’re sorry for the confusion and for letting down members of our community. While there was no intention or mechanism to collect or share your data or private information […]

When one considers exactly what Mozilla defines as “user data” and “private information”, one realizes how hollow this misleading claim rings. If they’re so concerned about their users, why aren’t they concerned about the data that is still being collected by the forcefully installed system add-ons of which users are largely unaware? Why aren’t these add-ons removed and placed in the add-on repository?

Resources:

YAMR (Yet Another Mozilla Rant) – Battling “fake news”

This is it folks. This is a ‘rotten cherry on the top of the stinking cake’ moment with a big fat pit right in the middle of it.

I recently learned that the multi-million dollar Mozilla corporation has decided that i (and you) are idiots; that we are incapable of analyzing news stories in order to determine whether they are creditable; that we should be reading the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times and the like to get our “news”. And so Mozilla has decided that it is they, the developers of a freaking web browser, that should step in to help steer us back on the right track by saving us from … FAKE NEWS!

Yes, on 8 August, 2017, the Mozilla foundation launched their incarnation of the Great Firewall of China by deciding to combat “fake news” via The Mozilla Information Trust Initiative, aka MITI. And what news does the Mozilla Information Trust Initiative consider “fake news”? Well, apparently any news that doesn’t originate from a mainstream source:

Imagine this: Two news articles are shared simultaneously online.

The first is a deeply reported and thoroughly fact checked story from a credible news-gathering organization. Perhaps Le Monde, the Wall Street Journal, or Süddeutsche Zeitung.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL!?!? “… a deeply reported and thoroughly fact checked story …“. Are You Kidding Me Right Now!

Let’s just have a quick look at the track record of the Wall Street Journal which, by the way, is essentially as biased and corrupt as any other mainstream government/corporate mouthpiece:

20 Reasons Not to Trust the Journal Editorial Page | FAIR (1-Sep-1995)

When Anita Hill took a polygraph test to try to substantiate her charges of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas, the Wall Street Journal attacked her in an editorial (10/15/91) titled “Credibility Gulch”: “Lie detector tests are so unreliable they are rarely allowed as evidence in court.”

But just eight months later (6/9/92), when the Journal argued against an Iran/Contra perjury indictment of former secretary of Defense (and editorial page contributor) Caspar Weinberger, this was its main evidence for Weinberger’s innocence: “Mr. Weinberger has taken and passed a lie-detector test on the matter.”

[…]

The Continuing Decline of McDonald’s : The Corbett Report (10-Jan-2017)

The global giant’s [McDonald’s] influential PR machine has used sleight-of-hand and other tricks to make this restructuring look like a smash success. They used their cheerleaders at the Wall Street Journal to hype “stronger-than-expected” profit and sales figures and their boosters at US News & World Report to hype some highly-selective earnings comparisons suggesting that this “turnaround” is, to use the WSJ’s phrase, “sustainable.”

But one doesn’t have to scratch too hard to reveal the rusty reality beneath this PR paint job.

Wall Street Journal circulation scam claims senior Murdoch executive | Media | The Guardian (12-Oct-2011)

One of Rupert Murdoch’s most senior European executives has resigned following Guardian inquiries about a circulation scam at News Corporation’s flagship newspaper, the Wall Street Journal.

The Guardian found evidence that the Journal had been channelling money through European companies in order to secretly buy thousands of copies of its own paper at a knock-down rate, misleading readers and advertisers about the Journal’s true circulation.

WSJ sourced Obama skinny quotes from Yahoo Message Boards (4-Aug-2008)

A journalist at the Wall Street Journal has been caught sourcing quotes for an article on Barak Obama being too thin to be President from a Yahoo Message Board.

In the article Too Fit to be President?, Wall Street Journal political correspondent Amy Chozick endeavored in the best News Corp tabloid style to create a story around the rather bizarre notion that voters wouldn’t vote for Obama because he was too thin, saying that “some Americans wondering whether he is truly like them.”

In the piece, she includes the quote “I won’t vote for any beanpole guy,” and originally didn’t attribute the source. Sadly No reports that the source was a Yahoo Message Board where Chozick actually asked for negative comments using her own name:

Plagiarizing? If the President Can Do it, Why Can’t We? – Lawyers.com (28-Dec-2009)

An online columnist for the Wall Street Journal was caught plagiarizing. Freelance writer Mona Sarika, who wrote the “New Global Indian” online column, used content from the Washington Post, Little India, India Today and San Francisco magazine.

Sarika copied direct quotes from other articles, without providing sources. She also changed the original speakers’ names apparently making up new ones.

WSJ Fakes a Green Shift Toward Nuclear Power | FAIR (24-Jun-2016)

The Wall Street Journal has a long history of editorial page support for nuclear power (4/17/01; 8/5/09; 11/9/09; 4/6/11; 5/24/13, to cite but a few) and against wind power (5/22/06, 3/1/10, 8/24/10, 11/8/12, 5/18/14 and others). In publishing this piece as edited, perhaps it is telling a story it wishes were true. As Harder’s article itself acknowledges, nuclear power is in decline due to a combination of economics, displacement by renewables and opposition. The green groups’ supposed change of heart “comes at a critical time, as several financially struggling reactors are set to shut down” even as other reactors already have, due to the low price of natural gas and state policies “that favor renewables over nuclear power.” As if to prove that point, the story provided a list of a dozen reactors that have been or will soon be shut down.

At Wall Street Journal, Government-Enforced Monopolies = ‘Free Market’ | FAIR (22-Jul-2015)

Ingram bizarrely touts the “flowing pipeline of new wonder drugs spurred by a free market,” which he warns will be stopped by “government price controls.” This juxtaposition is bizarre, because patent monopolies are 180 degrees at odds with the free market. These monopolies are a government policy to provide incentives for innovation. Ingram obviously likes this policy, but that doesn’t make it the “free market.”

Yes, Wall Street Journal, It’s Possible to Be Not Generous Enough | FAIR (10-Mar-2015)

The Wall Street Journal is soon to run a piece on improper denials of disability claims.

That’s inevitable, since any fair-minded newspaper that ran a column on improper approvals would surely want to balance it out.

At Wall Street Journal, Reporting Assault Through Israel’s Eyes | FAIR (13-Jul-2013)

In a news report on the Israeli military’s investigation of its own deadly raid on the Gaza aid flotilla, the Wall Street Journal (7/13/10) passes off as fact, with no qualifier, the Israeli government’s claim that members of IHH, a Turkish humanitarian organization, “attacked the Israeli soldiers as they boarded the ship.”

On Islamist Terrorism, WSJ Entitled to Its Own Opinions—But Not Its Own Facts | FAIR (16-Mar-2011)

This is a complete misrepresentation of the Rand report. The report is exclusively about Muslim radicalization and jihadism, not about domestic terrorism in general, as the WSJ would lead you to believe—if anything, it’s surprising that there are any non-Muslim jihadist plotters. (The exceptions were two men who agreed for their own secular purposes to collaborate with undercover FBI informants purporting to work for Al-Qaeda.)

The vast majority of “homegrown” terrorist attackers—those of all ideologies who successfully carry out an attack—are not Muslim, the report finds: Of the “83 terrorist attacks in the United States between 9/11 and the end of 2009, only three…were clearly connected with the jihadist cause.”

I could go on and on for months and months digging out the literal fake news pumped out by the Wall Street Journal or any other mainstream publication, but you can do that yourself if you’re so inclined. The point is, it is the mainstream media that is garbage; that is FAKE NEWS. Why? Simple: greed. Whenever there is greed involved — greed for money or greed for power or greed for control — there will always be corruption. Now granted, there is certainly boatloads of disinformation and misinformation all over the world wide web, but mixed in there are also some highly ethical people and small organizations that actually report the facts and back them with references. And who the hell is a multi-million dollar corporation (Mozilla) to dictate to you or i who is creditable and who is not? I have been watching probably an average of 50-100 news sites almost daily for many years and as a result of studying these sites and fact checking their content, i can confidently suggest some real news sites to follow if you’re interested:

How about NPR, Mozilla? Are they a creditable resource? I’ll bet they are in your eyes.

It is sites like those listed above that are actively being targeted by war-mongering, self-serving, psychopathic globalists who profit from endless war and stunting the development of the human species. The truth is irrelevant; all that matters is that you and i swallow whatever story it is that supports whatever agenda is being promoted at the moment by whatever government or corporation promoting it and now, to my surprise, even Mozilla has joined the ranks of those that want to control what information is available on the web, an architecture that was built with the free flow of information at its heart.

There must be some sort of funding that is being dished out to those willing to get on the “fake news” bandwagon. There is quite obviously a huge push to combat so-called “fake news” and return the masses to digesting the puke that spews out of the rancid bellies of corporate giants like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and all the rest of the mainstream presstitutes. Facebook, Google, Youtube – they are all doing the same thing. Are they getting paid to censor? Is Mozilla getting paid to take part in this? I don’t know, but i just may dig in and find out one of these days.

From The Mozilla Information Trust Initiative article:

This is why we’re launching MITI. We’re investing in people, programs, and projects that disrupt misinformation online.

Why Mozilla? The spread of misinformation violates nearly every tenet of the Mozilla Manifesto, our guiding doctrine.

Disrupt? So you want to use your corporate leverage to “disrupt” the flow of information? Sounds a lot like censorship, doesn’t it? Is that the principle on which the internet was built? From the Mozilla Manifesto:

The Internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible.

Well tell us Mozilla, how is it that the internet can remain open and equally accessible when corporate gate-keepers intend to steer the rest of us in a direction that benefits the powerful few and leads to total information control for the rest of us?

I think i’ll take their survey once again. In the mean time, go screw yourself Mozilla – i’ll do my own homework and decide what’s fake news and what isn’t.

New tut: Firefox Search Engine Cautions and Recommendations

A new tutorial has been published titled Firefox Search Engine Cautions and Recommendations which covers the risks to your privacy when using any of the major search engines in general, but specifically when using the default search engine plugins that are packaged with the Firefox web browser, though this problem is certainly not limited to Firefox. I also cover how to circumvent the risks to your privacy when using the default Firefox search engine plugins, as well as make suggestions for alternative search engines.

I have to say that i’m becoming more and more disillusioned with the multi-million dollar Mozilla corporation and its flagship product, Firefox. Firefox was never a great web browser in my opinion, but it is/was appealing to many because of how completely customizable it is. In it’s earlier days it was just a little slow and buggy, but more recently Mozilla is making highly unethical choices with regard to the privacy-hating corporations they willingly partner with and how these partnerships have manifested and have been monetized in Firefox is a result of utter stupidity and greed in my opinion. I stuck with Firefox all these years because it has always been one of the most hackable browsers out there, but these days i stick with it primarily because i’m not (yet) able to reproduce the functionality i have added to it via add-ons with any other browser, and Chrome is out of the question, much less Google’s spyware version of it.

It’s sad and frustrating that a company who produced a decent, super-highly customizable browser for a niche market has lost its way and turned its back on the very market it once served by deciding to become a Google Chrome clone in order to appeal to the masses.

Screw you Mozilla.

But let’s end on a lighter note, shall we? Here, have a look.