Mozilla stops Firefox full-screen VPN ads after user outrage

Firefox users have complained about highly intrusive full-screen ads promoting Mozilla VPN displayed in the web browser while browsing an unrelated page.

Ads appearing in Firefox disable web browser functionality, denying users access to the interface and graying everything out in the background until they close them.

Some users reported on Reddit that annoying full-screen ads even make Firefox unresponsive for 30 seconds, forcing them to terminate the browser process.

Besides the disruptive nature of the ad, Firefox users have shown their irritation at the aggressive promotion method of a company that theoretically has great respect for user choice and claims to value a people-centric experience.

Advertising boosts Mozilla-VPNa paid open-source VPN service that is a crucial source of revenue for the non-profit company.

Advertisement randomly served to Firefox users
Advertisement randomly served to Firefox users (Bugzilla)

Mozilla VPN is not available worldwide, only USA, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Netherlands, in New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom; therefore, it is safe to assume that only users in these regions saw the overlay ads in Firefox.

Mozilla disables ads

The Firefox user community immediately expressed outrage at the blatant promotional practice of Mozilla’s products by filing several reports on Bugzilla.

The most recent relevant report on Mozilla’s bug tracking platform received the “RESOLVED WORK FORM“, which means the ads are working as expected and there is nothing to fix.

BleepingComputer contacted Mozilla about this and received the following statement following the deluge of complaints from Firefox users:

“We are constantly working to understand the best ways to communicate with people using Firefox. In the end, we accomplished the exact opposite of what we wanted in this experiment and quickly canceled the experiment. We apologize for any confusion or concerns” – Mozilla

A quick fix for people who find Mozilla VPN ads unacceptable is to open Firefox, enter “about:config” in the URL bar, then set browser.vpn_promo.enabled to false by clicking the toggle button on the right.

Disabling VPN Advertising from Firefox Advanced Settings
Disabling VPN Advertising from Firefox Advanced Settings (Computer Beep)

Alternatively, users can install an ad blocker like AdGuard, which some people have reported to be effective in blocking the pop-up.


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