Mozilla is going to start selling ads in its Firefox browser, called ‘directory tiles‘. While this is surprising, Mozilla already makes lots of money through having Google as its default search engine, so this isn’t the first time the company has sold space inside its browser. What will it mean for the Firefox user?
The new ‘directory tiles’ don’t mean you’re going to get ad pages or tabs opened automatically, and your normal browsing experience won’t be interrupted or disrupted by ads coming from Mozilla.
What will change is the new empty tab. When you open a fresh tab now you see nine tiles, and over time they will fill up with your most visited and recently visited sites, for easy access. Mozilla is proposing to sell these spaces for new users, so the first time you open Firefox, instead of seeing nine blank spaces, they’ll all link to sites.
According to its blog post, these spaces will be populated with relevant Mozilla sites, popular sites in your location and some sponsored tiles. Mozilla says sponsored tiles will be from “hand-picked partners to help support Mozilla’s pursuit of our mission. The sponsored tiles will be clearly labeled as such, while still leading to content we think users will enjoy.”
Usually when a company announces ad partnerships, it will say something similar. While Mozilla should be easier to trust in bringing users quality sponsored content, the experiences of Twitter and Facebook show that it’s not easy to do, even if you have the right intentions. However, sponsored tiles are not very intrusive, and it appears that they will still be replaced over time with the sites you use in Firefox, as they are today.
The reaction on Reddit has been pretty negative, with some Redditors suggesting a group take the source code and make a fork of Firefox that serves no advertisements. One user even went so far as to suggest they would switch to Internet Explorer in protest, which is quite a threat from a Firefox fan. You can avoid future updates by turning off ‘Check for Updates’ in advanced settings.