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Mozilla Won’t Allow You to Sideload Extensions on Firefox Soon

Mozilla Won't Allow You To Sideload Extensions On Firefox Soon

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Earlier this week, Mozilla announced that the company will be discontinuing support for sideloading extensions to its Firefox browser. With Firefox version 74 planned to be released on March 10 next year, users will not be able to manually sideload extensions.

For the uninitiated, Sideloading is a method for installing a Firefox extension by placing XPI extension files to the special folder inside Firefox’s installation directory.

The prime reason for removing support for sideloading extensions is to ensure the privacy and security of Firefox users, according to Mozilla. “To give users more control over their extensions, support for sideloaded extensions will be discontinued.”, wrote Caitlin Neiman, Add-ons Community Manager at Mozilla in a blog post.

The concern seems valid as Neiman notes that this technique was used to install malware into Firefox. Since add-ons installed through this method will not show up on the Add-ons Manager of the browser, users will be unaware if they got affected. Sounds scary, indeed.

Mozilla, however, is not dropping support for sideloaded extensions all of a sudden. In the Firefox 73 that will be rolled out to users on February 11, 2020, sideloaded extensions will be converted to normal add-ons that will be accessible from the Add-ons Manager in the browser.

With Firefox dropping support for sideloading extensions, users will be left with two methods to install an extension. The first method is downloading and installing extensions from Firefox’s official Add-Ons portal. The other method is the “Install Add-on From File” option in the Add-on manager where users will be asked to browse and install the XPI file from their PC.

I do think this is a welcome move from Mozilla. But, what are your thoughts? Does this affect your workflow as a Firefox extensions developer? Tell us in the comments.



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Mozilla Reveals 28 Incidents About YouTube Recommendations

Mozilla Reveals 28 Incidents About Youtube Recommendations

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Last month, Mozilla started collecting opinions from users about YouTube’s recommendation system as part of its campaign #YouTubeRegrets. During the campaign, the company had mentioned that these opinions will be put up on the web or social media. Now, Mozilla has picked 28 stories from the campaign describing how people got stuck in YouTube’s recommendation rabbit hole.

I have picked a few stories from the list that sound scary and show how dumb the algorithm behaves at the same time. First up, we have the story of a person who allegedly searched for “fail videos”. Check out how YouTube recommendations got changed since then.

“I was then presented with a channel that showed dash cam videos from cars. At first it was minor accidents, but later it transitioned into cars blowing up and falling off bridges — videos where people clearly didn’t survive the accident. I felt a little bit sick at that point, and haven’t really sought out that type of content after that.”

YouTube’s algorithm doesn’t miss out on spreading conspiracy theories which might be inappropriate for a majority of people. Take a look at what a teacher has to say regarding the recommendation system.

“I’m a teacher and I watched serious documentaries about Apollo 11. But YouTube’s recommendations are now full of videos about conspiracy theories: about 9/11, Hitler’s escape, alien seekers and anti-American propaganda.”

While there is a dedicated website for kids now, people used to visit the normal YouTube website until a while back where people are served standard content irrespective of their age. This parent had a shocking revelation when he/she found out what kind of train videos his/her child had been exposed to.

“When my son was preschool age, he liked to watch “Thomas the Tank Engine” videos on YouTube. One time when I checked on him, he was watching a video compilation that -contained graphic depictions of train wrecks.”

In another incident, YouTube’s recommendations crossed all tolerable limits by showing adult content even while the person’s adult restrictions were turned on, as per his/her confession.

“I remember looking for yoga headstand videos in search. Recommendations started showing videos with images of naked woman doing headstands. This was when restrictions were on in my settings. I never looked for another such video. Then I looked for videos on Hinduism. And they started recommending very offensive videos with images like naked Draupadi having sex.”

If you’re interested to check out other stories, you may do so by visiting Mozilla’s YouTube Regrets campaign page here. So, have you been a victim of the YouTube recommendation system? Tell us in the comments.



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Mozilla Collects Opinions About Youtube Recommendations

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Have you ever regretted your decision of making a YouTube query due to the change in video recommendations it has done? Well, you might have and you’re probably not alone. Mozilla has started a new social media campaign named #YouTubeRegrets where it collects opinions of people who has experienced the YouTube recommendation rabbit hole.

“Once, at 2 a.m., you searched YouTube for “Did aliens build Stonehenge?” Ever since, your YouTube recommendations have been a mess: Roswell, wormholes, Illuminati. YouTube’s recommendation engine can lead users down bizarre rabbit holes — and they’re not always harmless.”, wrote Mozilla on the Google Docs page collecting opinions.

Mozilla took it to Twitter to collect the opinions of people. Take a look at the tweet below.

The problem with YouTube’s recommendation rabbit hole is not just the recommendation being biased with a mere search query you did. Instead, YouTube recommends videos spreading hateful or abusive content at times, even to the audience that are not mature enough to analyze it.

Mozilla claims that they have scheduled a meeting with the YouTube team in two weeks. The feedback you provide by sharing your experience with the YouTube recommendation system will help them put some pressure upon the responsible authorities to fix the problem.

The Mozilla team has also explicitly mentioned that your stories might be shared on the web, social media, or in the meeting with YouTube. If you’re interested to share your story with the Mozilla team and you’re okay with them sharing your story in the above said platforms, submit your story here.

So, what do you think of Mozilla’s initiative for making the YouTube recommendation system better for everyone? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.



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