This week, Mozilla slipped a browser extension that promoted Mr. Robot into Firefox. The goal was to give Firefox users access to an alternate reality game tied to the end of the show’s third season, but because Firefox didn’t initially offer any explanation for the sudden appearance of the extension, nicknamed Looking Glass, many users worried that spyware had been installed in their browsers.
After facing blowback from users and its own employees, Firefox tells Gizmodo that the extension will no longer be placed automatically in users’ browsers and will instead be available in Firefox’s add-on 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.”
“As a result we will be moving the Looking Glass Add-on to our Add-On store within the next 24 hours so Mr. Robot fans can continue to solve the puzzle and the source can be viewed in a public repository,” Kaykas-Wolff added.
Looking Glass was pushed out through a process Firefox normally uses to conduct user research. Although users had to enable the extension before the game would begin, Looking Glass did appear automatically in the extensions tab of users’ browsers. Initially, it included no explanation except for the message, “MY REALITY IS JUST DIFFERENT THAN YOURS.”
On Friday, after Firefox users took to Reddit to complain about the extension, it was updated to explain the affiliation with Mr. Robot. One of Mozilla’s software developers, Steve Klabnik, publicly critiqued the extension on Twitter. “How can we claim to be pro-privacy while surreptitiously installing software on people’s computers?” he tweeted. “More importantly, how did management not see this as a problem?”
According to Mozilla, Looking Glass will be moved to the add-on store, where users will be able to choose to install it instead of having it appear automatically in their browsers.