Mozilla so sorry about that intrusive Firefox VPN advert popup

Firefox

Mozilla managed to bother many Firefox customers this week by presenting an undesirable advert for its VPN service, and has since suspended the promotional initiative.

This is similar Mozilla that markets Firefox particularly for the supply of advert blocking extensions, or add-ons. “The common individual sees a median of 4,000 advertisements a day,” the org crows on its web site. “If you happen to suppose that’s too many, an advert blocker is your new greatest buddy.”

But the Mozilla VPN advert offered to Firefox customers was proof against advert blocking extensions as a result of it was not a part of any internet web page. Slightly it was served via Firefox’s consumer interface, by way of the browser Messaging System. The advert will be disabled, nonetheless, by coming into about:config within the Firefox enter bar and setting browser.vpn_promo.enabled to false.

Microsoft Edge has tried this tactic as effectively. It offered what appears like a banner advert for Edge atop a Google Chrome Canary obtain web page, although the advert resided inside an adjoining Edge-controlled content material space quite than content material space used for web page rendering.

Mozilla’s VPN advert proved to be significantly egregious as a result of it disabled the remainder of the Firefox interface till it was dismissed.

This isn’t the primary time Mozilla has irritated customers with undesirable advertisements. In 2020, Mozilla pressured push notifications on Firefox customers with out permission to advertise its weblog submit in regards to the StopHateForProfit coalition, which tried to stress Fb to cope with dangerous content material. The corporate confronted related blowback in 2017 for its Mr. Robotic promotional add-on.

Mozilla’s flirtations with promoting – a solution to increase and diversify its income past search engine offers – date again a minimum of to 2014.

Firefox customers voiced their displeasure in regards to the unwelcome VPN advert via on-line boards like Reddit and Mozilla assist pages.

As one consumer wrote, “I’m a developer on an emergency intervention hotline for sexual assault. Firefox is now throwing up pseudo-modal commercials for its VPN above pages.

“It’s completely IMPERATIVE that our guests don’t obtain these new modal commercials that Firefox is throwing at them. What can I do to forestall Firefox’s new browser-hijacking commercials from exhibiting up on our hotline pages?”

Screenshot of Mozilla Firefox's VPN ad popup

Ick … Screenshot of Mozilla Firefox’s VPN advert popup

One other consumer wrote, “The corporate I work for makes use of Firefox to view and challenge internet content material whereas filming authorities conferences, together with quite a lot of vital apps. Modal popups will make it troublesome to make use of in manufacturing; there are reviews of this crashing the present web page and inflicting points with a number of displays. If you happen to add this again, I am going to need to deploy a Firefox Enterprise coverage to disable this on our complete laptop computer fleet, which is… annoying.”

A bug report was filed in regards to the advert and shortly thereafter Mozilla disabled the promotion.

It seems the advert was being triggered inappropriately because of a time miscalculation error. Mozilla’s Messaging System contains code that tries to set off a message (an advert on this case) when a Firefox consumer has been idle for 20 or extra minutes.

However as Mozilla engineer Shane Hughes describes it, browser’s try to search out how a lot time has handed for the reason that final consumer interplay or audio occasion treats Epochs – time since January 1st, 1970 00:00:00 UTC – as in the event that they have been milliseconds.

The Register requested Mozilla to substantiate that the errant advert adopted from a timing bug and to touch upon the corporate’s choice to current such an advert.

A Mozilla spokesperson addressed simply our second query.

“We’re constantly working to know the most effective methods to speak with individuals who use Firefox,” a Mozilla spokesperson stated in an emailed assertion. “Finally, we completed the precise reverse of what we meant on this experiment and shortly rolled the expertise again. We apologize for any confusion or concern.” ®