Firefox’s address bar has ads now, but you can disable them

Firefox’s address bar has ads now, but you can disable them
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Mozilla introduced a new suggested search result feature in the Firefox address bar as part of the 93.0 release of its browser. That’s not too surprising — Firefox Suggest, Mozilla’s feature for “surfacing relevant information and sites to help you accomplish your goals,” is similar to suggestions offered by most browsers. But as How-To Geek spotted in the company’s support pages, it also includes content from paid advertisers.

“When contextual suggestions are enabled, Firefox Suggest uses your city location and search keywords to make contextual suggestions from Firefox and our partners, while keeping your privacy in mind,” the support post reads. The “relevant suggestions” from “trusted partners” appear at the bottom of the usual search suggestions pulled from your bookmarks, browser history, and open tabs — a less intrusive version of a search ad, but technically still an ad.

You can see results from partners at the bottom of Firefox Suggest results.
Image: Mozilla

According to the support page, Firefox Suggest doesn’t require any new data to be “collected, stored, or shared to make these new recommendations,” and the company only works with partners that meet Mozilla’s privacy standards for Firefox. The feature has also been kicking around since at least the previous 92.0 release, even though it first appeared in the current version’s release notes.

You can disable Firefox Suggest in settings.
Image: Mozilla

After updating to the newest version of the browser, Firefox might present you with a pop-up asking if you want to enable “contextual suggestions” or adjust your settings. If you accidentally enabled any of the Firefox Suggest features without realizing it, you can still disable them:

  • Click on the hamburger menu and then select Settings
  • Click on Privacy and Security in the sidebar and scroll to Address Bar — Firefox Suggest
  • Select or deselect the checkbox for contextual suggestions to turn the feature on or off
  • Select or deselect the checkbox for “occasional sponsored suggestions”

It’s slightly disappointing to have to manage a feature like this. Firefox is a popular alternative to browsers like Google Chrome because it’s stricter with users’ privacy and generally less data-hungry. If you trust Mozilla and want to support it, Firefox Suggest might not be a huge bother. It’s also not the first time the company has dabbled in advertising — in 2018, Mozilla incorporated paid advertiser links and Pocket article reading suggestions in new tabs.


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