In context: The search engine is a core part of any browser. All browsers come with a default search engine, like Chrome with Google, where both belong to the same company, or Mozilla Firefox, which uses an external one. In Firefox's case, it uses Google by default, but Mozilla is currently considering Bing as an alternative.
If you have been using Firefox and your default search engine changed, you might've been selected for Mozilla's latest study regarding search engines. From time to time, Mozilla runs studies to gather data so it can improve its user experience. The latest one we've learned about changes the browser's default search engine from Google to Bing.
Until now, this change has largely remained unnoticed, probably because it only affected less than one percent of desktop Firefox users. The study is expected to run throughout 2022 and will allow Mozilla "to better understand metrics around if and how desktop Firefox usage changes when the default search engine changes."
If you had your default search engine changed without your permission, you can revert back to your previous preference by going to "Settings" on the three-bar icon found on the top-right corner. Then, click "Search" in the left column and look for the "Default Search Engine" section. Once you've found it, select the search engine you want to use.
Firefox default search engines have mostly varied between Google and Yahoo. Before signing with Yahoo in 2014, Google was the default search engine. Yahoo's deal with Mozilla was supposed to last until 2023, but when Verizon acquired the search engine, Mozilla found a chance to go back to Google.
It has never been confirmed what contract Mozilla has with Google, but reports claim Firefox is bound to the search engine until 2023. The deal between both companies is estimated to be valued between $400 million and $450 million per year.
Image credit Nata Figueiredo