Mozilla has upset some of its most loyal users by inserting an add-on into Firefox without invitation or explanation. The add-on, called “Looking Glass,” turned out to be nothing more than part of the Mr. Robot ARG, but many Firefox users thought they had been hit with malware.
Firefox add-ons are an integral part of Mozilla’s web browser, massively expanding its capabilities . Normally, you would visit the Add-on Store, find one you like, and install it. But in this particular instance, Mozilla distributed “Looking Glass” to every Firefox Quantum user.
Mozilla Goes Through the Looking Glass
“Looking Glass” appeared in people’s list of extensions with an ominous description stating “MY REALITY IS JUST DIFFERENT THAN YOURS”. People understandably wondered what this mysterious extension was, and most assumed the worst, namely, that it was malware.
We now know it wasn’t malware. Instead, “Looking Glass” is part of the Mr. Robot alternate reality game (ARG), and was released to coincide with the end of Season 3. Mr. Robot, for the uninitiated, is a show about hacking. Mozilla eventually explained all, issuing a statement saying:
“Our goal with the custom experience we created with Mr. Robot was to engage our users in a fun and unique way. Real engagement also means listening to feedback. And so while the web extension/add-on that was sent out to Firefox users never collected any data, and had to be explicitly enabled by users playing the game before it would affect any web content, we heard from some of our users that the experience we created caused confusion.”
This is a non-apology if ever I saw one. Mozilla is essentially saying we did something we thought would be fun, it was completely harmless, and any confusion it caused is your fault. Which has only fueled the anger. And it looks like Mozilla didn’t even get paid for this cross-promotion.
"Mozilla wasn't paid for the Mr. Robot tie-in" who sells out for $0?!?!
— Carol Nichols (@Carols10cents) December 16, 2017
Firefox Quantum Mechanics for Beginners
This was a mistake by Mozilla. No, the add-on didn’t do anything until you opted in, but that’s not the point. The point is users who are tech-savvy had an unwanted add-on foisted upon them with no way of knowing what it was or why it was there. And that was never going to go down well.
This is really unfortunate timing too, because after years of no one really giving two hoots, Firefox Quantum had made Mozilla’s browser a talking point once more. A positive talking point, at that. And this simple Mr. Robot tie-in has now undone some of that good work and good press.
Did you notice this add-on suddenly pop up in Firefox? Did you immediately Google to find out what it was? Did you assume it was some kind of malware? Do you accept Mozilla’s apology? Or has it changed your feelings towards Mozilla? Please let us know in the comments below!