Not wanting to expose NSFW links, 1 in 4 Firefox 2 users avoid upgrading to FF3

Not wanting to expose NSFW links, 1 in 4 Firefox 2 users avoid upgrading to FF3

Summary: Users have refused to upgrade to the latest version of Firefox because they were afraid the browser would expose their, well, sensitive bookmarks."Sensitive," as in potentially "not safe for work.

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TOPICS: Browser
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Users have refused to upgrade to the latest version of Firefox because they were afraid the browser would expose their, well, sensitive bookmarks.

"Sensitive," as in potentially "not safe for work."

In an amusing post on PC Pro, Barry Collins notes that a recent Blog of Metrics post by Mozilla's security team notes that the revamped version of Firefox's location bar, which auto-suggests sites as you type, was a particularly, uh, sensitive subject.

When we expanded the capabilities of the location bar to search against all history and bookmarks in Firefox 3, a lot of people contacted us to say that they had certain bookmarks they didn’t really want to have displayed. In some cases users had intentionally hidden these bookmarks in deep hierarchies of folders, somewhat similar to how one might hide a physical object. Having something from your previous browsing displayed to someone else who is using your computer (or even worse) to a large audience of people as you are giving a presentation, is really one of the most embarrassing things that Firefox can do to you. So now in Firefox 3.5, users have complete control over what types of information are displayed in the location bar (or suggestions can be turned off entirely).

You know, folder hierarchies. "Certain bookmarks." Things you wouldn't want to pop up during a business meeting.

In May, Mozilla gave one last attempt at persuading the people using Firefox 2 to upgrade with a prompt and a questionnaire for those that declined, asking why they didn't want the latest software.

The number one reason? The new location bar, according to one in four users, and the fact that it delved into users' bookmark collections to suggest sites as they typed.

(See what other reasons people had for refusing to upgrade here at Hardware 2.0.)

Mozilla has since offered a "Private Browsing" mode in Firefox 3.5.

Topic: Browser

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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17 comments
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  • Not wanting to expose NSFW links, 1 in 4 Firefox 2 users avoid upgrading to

    Those bookmarks shouldn't be on their work computers in the first place so if its exposed or not is a rather moot point. But me personally, I could care less. If its some pr0n then I'd probably say lets have a look or email me the URL later.
    Loverock Davidson
    • couldn't

      http://incompetech.com/gallimaufry/care_less.html

      Also, your opinion doesn't make the point moot, except for you. It might involve people who use personal laptops in business situations. Anyway, I do agree in a sense that if they don't want it found, but they want access to it, then they need to figure out how to hide it.
      midenginedrift
      • Re: couldn't

        I couldn't care less about the entire post but this link is priceless. I'm going to bookmark it and use it. It irks me when people say "I could care less." I'm not sure why, it just does.
        Steve Goldman
      • Not just business situations

        I use my personal laptop for CHURCH situations!
        You can be sure that I'm careful about my
        bookmarks, heh.
        Garrett Williams
  • It's Been In There

    In the first version of Firefox with the Location bar, there was some obscure setting, I think in about:config that could turn it off. After finding that setting, I kept the upgrade, rather than returning to the nicer old version.

    I don't have embarrassing bookmarks, but the constant prompting is a really annoying visual distraction that was definitely a show stopper, had it continued.
    donden@...
  • RE: Not wanting to expose NSFW links, 1 in 4 Firefox 2 users avoid upgrading to FF3

    How to turn it off:
    in about:config
    Toggle this:
    browser.urlbar.autocomplete.enabled
    to false
    John J.
  • Always wondered why FF users, who compared with IE users, at least,

    are a fairly tech-savvy crowd, didn't all upgrade at once to newer versions of the browser as they were released (as a matter of fact, they do tend to do so to a much higher degree than [b]IE[/b] users, according to the statistics I've seen). It never occurred to me to consider that one of the reasons for choosing not to update was fear that one's browsing habits might be revealed to family members and colleagues. Some of us are just born na?ve !...

    Henri
    mhenriday
  • Be nice to dragons :)

    In the url address bar just type in "about:config" then promise to be nice to the dragons and enter "maxrichresults" and change from the usual default of 12 to 0 and viola. A violinist may appear but your history and bookmarks don't :)
    Tom6
  • Idiots

    Hard to believe that many users couldn't manage the small amount of search needed to find out how to configure that feature.

    Anyway, if you really want to hide your unseemly bookmarks, you can create a separate Firefox profile for your private use, and set the desktop shortcut to automatically open with your safe, public profile. Type the command to open the Profile Manager when you want to open your private profile; anyone else who uses your computer will use the shortcut, and never see your raunchy links. Just remember to close Firefox before you leave the machine unattended...
    Greenknight_z
    • Yes, In XP...

      I had to look at the Mozilla faq to see how to get the profile configuration to start in the first place. After that it popped up automatically for each restricted user account.

      I didn't think about creating profiles within profiles! Thanks!
      JCitizen
  • RE: Not wanting to expose NSFW links, 1 in 4 Firefox 2 users avoid upgrading to FF3

    Between centralized desktop management and network monitoring, there is nothing a user and so on their 'own' PC that can't be _easily_ monitored and reported.

    Only morons risk their income using business computing resources for explicitly prohibited personal use. I think they should be encouraged to continue doing it, so those who need jobs have positions can get those jobs when they are eventually fired.
    ps.zdnet@...
  • RE: Not wanting to expose NSFW links, 1 in 4 Firefox 2 users avoid upgrading to FF3

    Between centralized desktop management and network monitoring, there is nothing a user and so on their 'own' PC that can't be _easily_ monitored and reported.

    Only morons risk their income using business computing resources for explicitly prohibited personal use. I think they should be encouraged to continue doing it, so those who need jobs can get their jobs when they are eventually fired.
    ps.zdnet@...
    • I wonder how one should characterise persons

      who post the same message twice in a row, and then don't bother to delete the extra posting ?...

      Henri
      mhenriday
      • Heh - Heh. Good question Henri...

        .
        JCitizen
  • Not just embarassing data...

    but consultant and client privilege dictates hiding such links/favorites/history.

    Sometimes it is just good business practice to limit information - especially when contract negotiations are in session.

    Could also help limit business espionage; I can think, of many reasons to demand this kind of feature. Most of the time I like transparency; but even then - sometimes just for personal security reasons, such things should not be exposed.
    JCitizen
  • RE: Not wanting to expose NSFW links, 1 in 4 Firefox 2 users avoid upgrading to FF3

    Firefox 3.5 will only list half my bookmarks, so I can't use it.

    edt
    edtrac@...
  • RE: Not wanting to expose NSFW links, 1 in 4 Firefox 2 users avoid upgrading to FF3

    xxszmg,good post!
    makrejktt48-24353614433154813928226228864324