Mozilla Foundation chair tackles thorny issue of ads in Firefox

Mozilla just recently made an announcement that made everybody's heads spin. Firefox was going to have ads. Naturally, as with anything related to unwanted advertisements, users were in an uproar. Now the Mozilla Foundation is clarifying its position and the situation isn't really as dire as some may paint it.

To be clear, Firefox won't suddenly be popping up or showing ads the same annoying way you might see (Google) ads on web pages today. What is being labeled as ads are really "sponsored", or paid for, tiles in Firefox's New Tab page. They would most likely look like any tile existing right there now, except they have paid for their right to be there. At least until they're eventually pushed away by your browsing history and favorites.

But people have developed an allergy of anything that vaguely resembles advertising or paid advantage. According to Mitchell Baker, chair of the Mozilla Foundation, Mozilla is acutely aware of this as it can trace its roots back to the dark days of Netscape. But their decisions, whether it be to discard ads or to accept sponsorship programs, have always been made based on whether they can offer something worthwhile to the user.

And she believes that they can, through this newly revealed Directory Tiles feature. She believes that Mozilla can offer useful content via sponsored tiles. For her, the sponsored Tiles generate value to users and, at the same time, also generates revenue for Mozilla, a win-win situation. But unlike ads that might make your blood curl, Tiles will not have any tracking features. At least not on Mozilla's side.

This might not, however, placate many users who have been left disillusioned with Mozilla's entry into this kind of business. Some feel that Mozilla is embarking on a slippery slope and that this could just be the beginning, or the end of it all. Others, while somewhat more accepting of Baker's explanations, still chided Mozilla for doing a rather poor job at communicating the feature in the first place. Baker has admitted to this shortcoming and has promised to cover related topics in the coming days. Suffice it to say, we're probably not going to hear the end of these sponsored tiles just yet.