Internet Security Tech News

Mozilla Inserted a Mr. Robot Add-on Into Firefox

Dave Parrack 18-12-2017

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 7 Great Customization Add-ons for Firefox Whether you use Firefox for work or pleasure, add-ons help tailor your browser experience just for you. These customization add-ons provide a new look as well as a personalized way to use Firefox. Read More . 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.


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 Firefox Quantum Arrives to Challenge Google Chrome Firefox Quantum is faster, better-looking, more streamlined, and more useful, and it may be able to give Chrome a run for its money. It certainly uses less RAM... Read More 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!

Related topics: Browser Extensions, Hacking, Mozilla, Mozilla Firefox.

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  1. dragonmouth
    December 20, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    Oh, the irony of it!

    On the one hand Mozilla forces an add-on onto its users but on the other hand, with FF version 56, it disables many add-ons. Most of my security/privacy add-ons do not work any more.

  2. Gazoo
    December 20, 2017 at 12:59 am

    The Mr.Robot (I enjoy the show but that's not the point) stunt is just another in a series of actions on the part of Mozilla (CORP) that have their users questioning if "privacy and security" are just marketing-speak. Here are others:

    about:addons uses Google Analytics

    when switching search providers to Yahoo and calling it "promoting choice and innovation" (doesn't help that they think they can talk down to their users).

    paid advertisements in it's New Tab Page

    Proprietary service Pocket bundled into it's browser as a hard-coded feature.

    project MITI (Mozilla Information Trust Initiative) and Mozilla's deep concerned about what YOU are being exposed to on 'teh internets'. Because we're too dumb to think for ourselves.

    Firefox add-on install to send browsing data to CliqZ

    Mozilla's Project Shield: user tracking, allows installing add-ons in the backgroud (ie, secretly)

    Please don't sell the Mr.Robot stunt as a standalone oversight (unless you haven't been paying attention).

    • dragonmouth
      December 20, 2017 at 2:09 pm

      You forgot allowing Google to capture FF user's browsing and search history.

      Firefox ships with the Google Safe Browsing extension built-in and enabled by default. Ostensibly it is an ant-phishing add-on but it allows Google track the sites you visit.

      Firefox will share your location with Google.

  3. Kurt S
    December 19, 2017 at 12:39 am

    Mozilla and Firefox have screwed the pooch with this.

  4. Walter
    December 18, 2017 at 11:32 pm


  5. Ashton
    December 18, 2017 at 11:02 pm

    Using vivaldi ever since add-ons kept breaking and happy with it. Mozilla is mostly bad memories about crap performance for few functions I've missed from old opera and tree tabs. Vivaldi 4tw

    • ike301
      December 20, 2017 at 1:15 am

      Sigh. The old Opera browser. Now why did you have to go and make me reminisce? I really enjoyed Opera. Especially the mask as IE or Firefox option for rendering issues, the wand, and the built in email client to name a few.

      • Ashton
        December 20, 2017 at 10:12 am

        Well opera needed a new engine, sadly they scratched everything that was good about the browser..

        Vivaldi on the other hand built on chromium engine and is pretty much becoming what opera should've aimed for after switching.

  6. Michael Steverson
    December 18, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    Mr. Robot is a USA Networks show.

  7. Matt
    December 18, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    So what ?
    The so called tech savvy know what they are doing, don't they ?
    To be honest - I don't care at all. 1st thing I do after upgrading/installing is checking this most basic of all settings, the addons/plugins. I didn't have it, by the way.