Mozilla had a little something in mind for its users: an add-on called Looking Glass that remotely installs itself on Firefox and reads, "MY REALITY IS JUST DIFFERENT THAN YOURS."
That marketing stunt themed after the hacker drama Mr. Robot is just a recipe for disaster, stirring up the community and leading users to think they were really hacked. Now the company is setting things straight by explaining the thought process behind the browser extension and moving it to the add-on store instead.
Mozilla Backtracks, Clears Up The Issue
In Mozilla's defense, Looking Glass didn't exactly take effect — or rather, start the alternate reality game — until users enabled it. Still, no one can blame the users for thinking it was malware or anything else along those lines since the add-on's description sounds ominous, after all.
After a short while and some backlash, the company assured that the extension didn't collect data and that it was all in the name of fun.
"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," a Mozilla representative told Engadget.
How To Prevent 'Shield Studies' From Automatically Installing
Mozilla's Shield Studies is behind the whole thing, which is the company's way to try out features and functions on Firefox and get feedback before officially rolling them out. While others require the user's permission before installation, some don't.
Luckily, opting out of these tests is easy. Just go to Preferences and then to Privacy & Security, look for "Firefox Data Collection and Use," and disable "Allow Firefox to install and run studies."
For those who haven't uninstalled it yet, just go to the Add-ons via the Firefox menu and remove it there, or just type "about:addons" in the URL bar to access the option.
It should be noted that Shield studies typically aren't that invasive, and presumably, Mozilla has learned its lesson with Looking Glass, so it'll likely be more careful about releasing add-ons like this in the future.
The Bottom Line
Sure, it might seem like light-hearted fun, and in hindsight, no harm was done. However, remotely installing software on users' devices is almost always never a good idea, especially if it's based on a hacker drama show such as Mr. Robot.
With all said and done, what do you think of the Looking Glass add-on on Firefox? Whether you liked it or not, feel free to hit us up in the comments section below and let us know.