Mozilla has always indicated that the privacy of those using their Firefox web browser should always be protected. Unfortunately, for those that haven't opted out of studies - the company's equivalent of a beta program for new features - it appears marketing trumps that privacy claim.
Users flocked to Reddit to point out a new add-on called Looking Glass that had mysteriously appeared in their browsers over the weekend. The add-on is apparently an alternate reality game tied to the TV show Mr. Robot. According to support page:
The Mr. Robot series centers around the theme of online privacy and security. One of the 10 guiding principles of Mozilla's mission is that individuals' security and privacy on the internet are fundamental and must not be treated as optional. The more people know about what information they are sharing online, the more they can protect their privacy.
It seems like a weird marketing ploy to invade the privacy of users that have been promised privacy, but then some marketing campaigns have been known to not clearly think things out.
Mozilla software developer Steve Klabnik even took to Twitter to explain how it happened:
How can we claim to be pro-privacy while surreptitiously installing software on people's computers?— Some(@steveklabnik) (@steveklabnik) December 15, 2017
More importantly, how did management not see this as a problem?
The negative feedback has forced Mozilla to now move the app to the store.
"Our goal with the custom experience we created with Mr. Robot was to engage our users in a fun and unique way," Mozilla's chief marketing officer Jascha Kaykas-Wolff told Gizmodo. "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."
The move lets users choose to install the app now, allowing them to still solve the Mr. Robot puzzle if they don't have a sour taste in their mouths from the experience.