Me: Mozilla exists because it gets half a billion dollars from Google for allowing them to violate your privacy by default on their browser.

Folks: what nefarious conspiracy theory is this?


@aral Sadly the truth has gotten so bad, people are unable to accept it.
For another example, I've told a lot of people that proprietary software is most often malware, but of course they refuse to even consider it.

@Suiseiseki @aral The biggest problem I run into with that is that most people cannot even conceptualize what proprietary software is or what free software is. In order to really understand, one seemingly has to be equipped with the knowledge of how software is built. There are frustratingly lots of mouth breathers going around who think Windows is “open source” because they can change the theming or install third party software.

@aral I don't Mozilla is happy about this situation either.

@tuxicoman Oh, I hear you. Mitchell Baker* cries into her $3M+/year salary every night. It’s heartbreaking.

* CEO of Mozilla Corporation.

brave, opera, vivaldi don't succeed mure more IMHO.

not enough people are OK to pay for a browser as an end-user product. And the web browser needs to be wide adopted enough to not be marginalized by the difference of behavior with the main browsers.

@aral @tuxicoman mozilla having a chance to make a comoletely new browser engine for the community and then laying off all servo devs

Also so much for community browser when the most 'community' i see is wontfix

@meeper @aral @tuxicoman "re-focus the organization on new commercial services"

how positively ghoulish

also nonprofit-industrial complex go brrrrrr

@aral @tuxicoman

It is not a proof by itself but still... There many arrows pointing in the same direction.

Google doesn't need firefox anymore to block MS. The marketshare of firefox droped dramaticaly in ten years but the management is getting very rich and even richer with the money from the company which has interest to see firefox falling.

Meanwhile, Ton Rosendal didn't asked for millions to lead Blender to awesome success.

@aral what browser suggestions do you have? Asking genuinely, I don’t wanna go back to Safari.

@aral I would have thought it is more to be able to point a competitor for Chrome.

@aral I mean, sure. It would be great if Mozilla were completely independent of commercial interests, but this seems like an arbitrary complaint because

You're perfectly able to change the default search engine in settings. It's what, three clicks?
You can even remove Google entirely from the search alternatives. One more click.

And once you've done that, Mozilla still nets $500,000,000 in support from Google to maintain a competitor to Chrome. Where's the damage?

@haverholm Tell me this: how much do you think Google thinks the difference between private by default and private by configuration is worth to them?

Hint: half a billion dollars.

Are they idiots? I don’t think so.

The damage is that we end up thinking there is actually an alternative when there isn’t so we don’t fund a true alternative from the commons for the common good.

Is Mozilla the best you can get from Silicon Valley. Yes. Can we do far better than Silivon Valley? Also yes.

@screenbeard @haverholm I wish I could tell you, Josh. I really do.

The alternative needs to be something we all fund from the commons.

@aral @screenbeard Absolutely. However, until that grand dream materialises as an actual, mature browser, I'll be using Firefox without a hint of bad conscience.

„Firefox is the worst of all browsers. Except all the others“, huh?
@aral @screenbeard

@RyunoKi Despite the quotation marks, you said that, not me. Scratching my head. @aral @screenbeard

@RyunoKi I'd go to "the perfect is the enemy of the good" in this case. See also the Nirvana fallacy @aral @screenbeard

@haverholm @aral @screenbeard Same. I have big plans for a new operating system, part of which will be a new browser. I hope it'll be successful.

@aral I'll try not to be reactive to a perceived "attack" against my fave browser, because a lot of what you say is valid criticism, and it's important that you and others like you continue to call out bad behaviour.

I'm also undergoing a learning journey of my own and waking up to the reality of what these companies are truly like, and its people like yourself who help usher me along that path. I've followed you since I joined mastodon and I value a lot of your hard-line opinions on freedom and accessibility.

The one thread I find really difficult to follow though is your hard line stance against Mozilla and Firefox specifically. Maybe it's not as hard line as I imagine, but it's definitely a long running argument I've seen you make that leaves the impression that you want people to stop using Firefox.

In another marketplace and another product, I would agree that a hard line stance against a corporation you disagree with is desirable. I agree that bad actors and bad practices should be called out. In this instance though, I do genuinely disagree that discontinuing use of Firefox is a net good.

In the absence of another moral actor, Firefox is the only other browser engine holding back the complete takeover of Google's engine - a fact I know you know. And yes, it's awful they're funded by Google, and yes I'd rather it was run differently, but I genuinely don't see the "so what" of your argument.

As an observer of your argument over many months, it just seems like a depressant on the take-up and continued use of Firefox. The more voices saying "ditch Firefox, it doesn't deserve us" sends more people away to other engines.

And forgive me, I might be misreading your argument - maybe you're not saying not to use it, in which case, that's not how it reads to me. Or maybe you're glad for it to lose market share and die, and then I guess just hope something will replace it? But If that's true then I really don't understand the plan.

Or maybe there's something else I'm missing.
I want Firefox to get better. I want the software I use to be 100% free of bad actors. I think I want what I think you want. I just don't get how arguing with users of Firefox achieves those goals - in the absence of a genuine alternative. It's just a weird hill to take a stand on at this moment in time.

@aral sorry, that's a lot of words to say "stop picking on my browser" but I hope you can see it's not because I can't hear a bad word against my precious baby.

@screenbeard Actually trying to step away so please excuse the brevity of the response: it’s not about Firefox, it’s about Mozilla. Of course what Mozilla is affects what Firefox is but Firefox can be (and is) forked, configured, etc. It’s about what Mozilla is allowed to get away with – in influencing public policy, getting public funding, etc.

@aral all good. I don't expect a super long reply to a rant like that. I take your point about Mozilla. I'll see if I can find a Firefox fork that provides me the same level of functionality as FF, and isn't run by a Silicon Valley company and maybe you'll have made a convert.

@screenbeard To be fair, I don’t even want you to move off Firefox necessarily (but make sure you’ve gone through all the settings to ensure they’re not farming you) – I still use it as my main browser. What I’d like is for people to stop legitimising them so they don’t continue to control the narrative around regulation, lead to lethargy around alternatives (hey, there’s Firefox, right?) and so they don’t suck up the funds and resources other groups could use to work on proper alternatives.

@screenbeard (I tried GNOME Web, was unusable as a daily driver. Tried Librewolf – about as close as you can get to perfect on the privacy front but sacrifices too much on other fronts, like accessibility, etc. It’s not like there are a tonne of choices. We really do need a commons browser.)

@aral ok, so we do agree for the most part. I can't speak for everyone, and maybe other people really do think Mozilla is the bee's knees, but I wonder if the reason you get so much push back is because so many people interpret what you say as "stop using Firefox".

And actually, when I think about it, my initial reaction actually comes from a place of "not this again", that stems from arguments I saw when Mozilla introduced Pocket integration. Back then I wasn't as conscious of the concerns you raise and felt like all that was overblown at the time. I guess some saw it as a sign of things to come, but to me it seemed like not a big deal. So I guess the push back started for me then. And every argument since then has just made me push back harder. Maybe that's where other people are coming from too.

Anyway, I don't have a conclusion. Maybe the insight will help you reach out to new people with your fight against Mozilla. I don't think they'll save us, but I guess i had a belief they could do good in a broken system and our basic disagreement is that I am simply hoping they will make the best of a bad situation, where I interpret your argument as "they're too compromised to ever be better".

Sorry, I think I changed my argument mid-conversation. I was trying to articulate why your Mozilla/Firefox discussions make me push back. I'm glad of masto's increased character limit. On Twitter I feel like I'd just be yelling at you by this point.

@screenbeard @aral @haverholm Gemini is the only project I know of that is going for the jugular, that being what I call "standards bloat"

imo, the real concerning issue is that Google, alongside with Microsoft & Apple, is part of W3C… you know, the guys who decide what the web should or shouldn’t be with, like, standards etc…

Well, in fact i’m not even sure they still need to be on the W3C, because when Google implements a feature. it becomes “experimental” at first, but is soon implemented in all major browsers since they’re almost all based on Chrome… Then it becomes a new standard.

@Guerin @haverholm Yep. The W3C is the standards body of surveillance capitalism.

@Guerin @aral I agree, W3C should definitely be free of Google, Microsoft and Apple's sway. No discussion there.

@aral Agree on your last paragraph, but for all its issues Firefox is the only real alternative to the corporate browsers. The even smaller forks and clones of Chrome or Firefox are hardly a blip on the market.

Sure, we need more secure alternatives that actually make an impact, I'm not debating that. But realistically, I can't get upset that Google pour half a billion dollars at Chrome's closest competitor for an easily changed search default. It looks more like a joke to me.

@amatecha And this is what folks at Mozilla and Google literally bank on. (Fascinating read, by the way, thanks for sharing.)

@haverholm @n8chz

@aral @amatecha @n8chz ...which just speaks to how Google even maintain their status as most people's gateway to the Internet (if they venture off Facebook).

So the remaining 5% that know how to change their settings are the target group that Firefox need to share with whatever mayfly fork is end vogue at any given time — a handful of misanthropic nerds on obscure alt media. Ie., us.


“When we interviewed a sample of them, they all told us the same thing: They assumed Microsoft had delivered it turned off for a reason, therefore who were they to set it otherwise. ‘Microsoft must know what they are doing,’ several of the participants told us.”

@haverholm @n8chz

@aral @amatecha @haverholm @n8chz Another factor I've heard from family members is that for example Google's settings seem like they were intentionally designed to be hard to navigate and interconnected in confusing ways so that people don't turn off their tracking

And this was heard from my father too, who I can't say isn't tech savvy, it's even worse for those who aren't since they'll likely think they turned something off, but it turned something else back on in it's place

@SigmaOne @aral @amatecha @haverholm @n8chz More precisely: they're designed to be hard to navigate, while at the same time being easy enough that a techbro can still plausibly argue that "it says it right there! you just need to read" so that the weird nerd brigade will jump to their defense

@haverholm @joepie91 Pretty sure the tech bro referred to there is a Google employee, or at the very least a big tech apologist, probably not you.

@n8chz @joepie91 >phew< I was getting ready to kick myself in the teeth.


And that's not just from "tech bros".
I've heard that argument from fervent FOSS contributors, explaining why making something more straightforward to use was a bad idea or not worth it.
Paraphrasing: "if you know how to use the console and bother to read the manual for half a day, you can quickly work out how to make the software do whatever you like, so we don't need a button for that."
... same pattern, similar effect :(

@SigmaOne @aral @amatecha @haverholm @n8chz

@Mr_Teatime @joepie91 @aral @amatecha @haverholm @n8chz Yeah, unfortunately this is really common in FOSS

My personal guideline is that if I have to justify not adding a feature only with "You can do it with these different features", it should be added anyways

And if a GUI is a primary feature, it should be equally convenient to the console, even if I personally like to use the console more

@SigmaOne @Mr_Teatime @joepie91 @aral @amatecha @haverholm My personal guideline is that if someone requests a feature I attempt to implement it, and if I either don't know how or don't have enough time, I tell the truth and tell them I'm not smart enough to code that. I find GUI programming 100x more challenging than non-GUI. Maybe that makes me some kind of FOSSbrain and therefore a bad person. Or maybe it just means UI/UX is considered the high value skill for good reason.

@n8chz @Mr_Teatime @joepie91 @aral @amatecha @haverholm The key thing is that you admit that you can't implement that, and that's fine

A lot of these FOSS people intentionally don't implement features even though they could

Especially if someone is maintaining (or contributing to) a project in their spare time, for fun, they have a lot of valid reasons to say no to any request. That may be unfortunate but noone can tell that person what to do.
I only get mad if they start arguing that something must not be implemented because "usability is bullshit" (actual quote)...

@SigmaOne @joepie91 @aral @amatecha @haverholm

@amatecha @aral @haverholm Word? Of all the things to run on default settings...

@aral @haverholm Do you think in the meantime we could spend much less promoting alternatives like DuckDuckGo? Or is that a lost battle?

@filipe @haverholm Don’t invest to heavily in DuckDuckGo either (to avoid future disappointment) because the VCs already have. I am still wondering what their exit is going to be.

@filipe @aral I dont see the big draw of the DDG browser specifically, though I use their search engine. But no! Promote away. It's much more fruitful than griping online about where the biggest, least-worst-for-privacy browser gets its funding.

@haverholm @aral Some people are reformist and some are revolutionary :)

@aral It’s not just that. The existence of Firefox also protects Google from Antitrust actions (though it’s unclear whether without Firefox there would actually be antitrust actions over Chrome nowadays, because they would just claim that they don’t actually control Chrome; after all there is Chromium that in theory anyone can change — the changes just won’t be maintainable if they go against the wishes of Google). @haverholm

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