Firefox to remove misleading button after months of complaints

Misleading "Save" button worked as "Upload" and sent users' screenshots to Mozilla's servers.
Written by Catalin Cimpanu, Contributor
Firefox Screenshot tool
Image: ZDNet

After months of user complaints, Mozilla will remove a misleading "dark pattern" from its page screenshot utility.

The problematic feature is the "Save" button that appears when Firefox users take a screenshot.

The issue is that the Save button doesn't save the screenshot to the PC, as most users would naturally expect, but uploads the image to a Mozilla server.

This is both a privacy violation, as some users don't appreciate being tricked into uploading sensitive images saved on remote servers, but also an incovenience as users would still have to download the image locally, but in multiple steps afterward.

Users have complained about the button's label for months, and for good reasons. An attempt to replace "Save" with "Upload" was made this last September, but the update never made it into Firefox's Screenshot tool.

However, news has emerged this week that the "Save" (actually Upload) button's days are numbered. According to notes from a Mozilla meeting that took place this week, the backend servers of the Screenshot utility are being shut down.

The servers being shut down is a matter related to Mozilla dropping the Test Pilot program, where the Screenshot tool was also initially developed since in 2016, before being rolled out to all users between Firefox 56 (September 2017) and Firefox 59 (March 2018).

With the Test Pilot being wound down, the server shutdown is scheduled for the second half of 2019, however, the Screenshot utility will remain in Firefox and continue to work, albeit without the server upload capability.

According to a Mozilla spokesperson, the "Save" button will be replaced with a "Download" button, as it was initially planned last September.

"Since the beginning of the Test Pilot program, user input and support have always been core to creating Firefox product features and functionality. Screenshots has been one of the most popular features created out of the Test Pilot program and we continued to iterate on the feature," a Mozilla spokesperson told ZDNet. "We heard feedback from users about the icon and text button and were in the process of changing the copy from 'Save' to 'Upload,' to clear up the confusion."

"At the same time, we reviewed overall usage and noticed the copy to clipboard and download options were considerably the more popular use cases, and we decided to remove the option to Save/Upload to the server," the spokesperson said. "As with all our Firefox features, our goal is to always provide an easy and simple experience for our users."

Firefox Screenshot tool with Download button
Image: ZDNet

This is the same button that currently appears if users disable the server upload functionality via the about:config setting of extensions.screenshots.upload-disabled.

Firefox Screenshot tool about:config settings
Image: ZDNet

Article updated on Sunday, January 20, with comment from Mozilla.

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