Monday, December 18, 2017

Firefox Pushes Looking Glass Add-on

Chris Siebenmann:

This [Allow Firefox to install and run studies] preference sounds relatively harmless, and probably it used to be. Then very recently Mozilla pushed out a nominal SHIELD experiment in the form of a new extension called ‘Looking Glass 1.0.3’, with the helpful extension description text of ‘MY REALITY IS JUST DIFFERENT THAN YOURS’. Unsurprisingly, a lot of people who noticed this extension appearing were quite alarmed, because it certainly does look like malware from surface appearances, and to add to the fun there was no particular sign in Firefox of what it did. People on Reddit who noticed it resorted to reverse engineering the extension’s code in an attempt to figure things out, eg.

What this extension actually is is some kind of promotion from the Mr Robot TV show:

[…] Firefox and Mr Robot have collaborated on a shared experience to further your immersion into the Mr Robot universe, also known as an Alternate Reality Game (ARG). […]

From the outside, this collaboration certainly seems like it was actually ‘Mr Robot gave Mozilla a bunch of money and Mozilla abused its browser experiments system to inflict a Mr Robot promotional extension on people’. To make it worse, this is not just any old extension; this is an extension that apparently silently alters text on web pages (some text, only for a while).

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