Mozilla in January said it would begin experimenting with showing the “occasional” sponsored story within the Pocket Recommendations section of the new tab page in Firefox for select users. As of this week, the feature expanded to Firefox Nightly and Firefox Beta and will soon go fully live to a much wider audience.
Firefox 60, set to debut publicly on May 9, will launch with sponsored stories in tow. In a blog post explaining its stance, Mozilla’s Nate Weiner said users can expect a personalized experience without sacrificing privacy as “all personalization happens on the client-side, without needing to vacuum up all of your personal data or sharing it with others.”
According to Mozilla’s privacy page, Pocket sends over a list of recommendations to Firefox each day alongside a list of related websites that, when visited, signal likely interest in a story. The browser compares your browsing history to the list of related websites to pinpoint stories you’re likely to be interested in. These, in turn, are what populate the Pocket Recommendations feature.
If enabled, Mozilla says it collects information about how many times a recommended story appears and whether or not you interacted with it. Mozilla adds that except for an aggregated total count of impressions and clicks that a story receives, sponsors do not receive any additional data about you.
That promise may not put everyone at ease but what is reassuring is the fact that users can hide stories they aren’t a fan of or disable sponsored content altogether.
If you’d prefer to take the latter route, simply select the New Tab Preferences gear icon at the top right corner of a new tab page and uncheck Show Sponsored Stories. Note that you may not see this option if you aren’t a part of the beta testing group but it should show up come May 9 with the arrival of Firefox 60.