Mozilla has announced that starting next week, to coincide with the release of Firefox 60, it will start showing sponsored links in new tabs to US users. It says that this feature is implemented in a privacy-friendly manner.
The announcement says the feature will also be part of Firefox beta and nightly releases starting Monday. Mozilla will not announce if and when the feature will be extended to users outside the US in the stable version. It writes that today we “accept that users have to give up their privacy and data in exchange for high-quality personalized experiences.” It claims its own experiments with the new feature have shown this to be untrue.
For example, the suggestions for sponsored links are created locally, with no data being sent to Mozilla, the organization explains on a special page. It only tracks how often sponsored links appear and how often people click on them, to the extent that users have chosen to share technical data with Mozilla.
Firefox makes the recommendations using the Pocket service, which Mozilla acquired more than a year ago. In addition, users can choose to disable the feature. Then they won’t see Pocket suggestions when opening a new tab. People who do use the feature can remove sponsored links if they don’t like it in order to improve the service.
Mozilla previously introduced ads in the form of “featured content” on its so-called Tiles page, but stopped doing so in 2015. The release of Firefox 60 is scheduled for May 9.