Because all good things must come to an end, Mozilla has decided to follow through with its plan to insert ads into your sacred New Tab page, and it will be using Pocket—acquired in 2017—to do it. Luckily, Firefox users can take control of the situation with just a bit of effort.
Sponsored Pocket stories are not new, but their presence in most Firefox users’ browsers will be. A few months ago, Mozilla said it was experimenting with “an occasional sponsored story,” but today Mozilla wrote, “we’re expanding this work further—now Firefox Beta users may also see these sponsored stories,” said Pocket founder Nate Weiner in a Mozilla blog post. “We’re preparing for this feature to go fully live in May to Firefox users in the US with the Firefox 60 release.”
Since Mozilla’s acquisition of Pocket, the web-clipping service has been integrated into the newest rendition of Mozilla’s browser, Firefox Quantum. I myself am a regular user of both Firefox’s Pocket-friendly New Tab page and its Pocket New Tab extension in my Chrome browser.
Mozilla is giving users the option to disable the recommended stories as well as sponsored stories in the New Tab page. To disable Mozilla’s ads, open your New Tab page, hit the gear icon in the top-right corner, and click the checkboxes to disable the two options. It’s as simple as that—just remember to do it when Firefox 60 drops in May.
If you’re worried about what kind of data is getting collected based on your reading habits, Mozilla claims you can breathe a bit easier. Mozilla says it’s able to personalize its recommendations for you without acquiring or sharing your personal data. “We’ve come to accept a premise around advertising today that users need to trade their privacy and data in exchange for personalized, high quality experiences,” Weiner said. “Our experiments over the last few months have proved that this isn’t true.”