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Fear of Porn URL Exposure Discourages Firefox 3 Upgrade 673

Posted by timothy
from the porn-mode-incomplete-until-it's-a-separate-browser dept.
Barence writes "Mozilla's Security team has disclosed a very interesting piece of research which suggests people refused to upgrade to Firefox 3 because they were afraid the browser would expose their porn collection. Mozilla's research found that the number one reason for not upgrading was the new location bar, and the fact that it delved into people's bookmark collections to suggest sites as they typed. '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,' Firefox's principal designer, Alex Faaborg, tactfully explains. 'In some cases users had intentionally hidden these bookmarks in deep hierarchies of folders, somewhat similar to how one might hide a physical object.'"
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Fear of Porn URL Exposure Discourages Firefox 3 Upgrade

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  • by 0racle (667029) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @01:57PM (#29204911)
    That's why I use IE.
    • by CarpetShark (865376) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:22PM (#29205375)

      Ahh, but you won't be using IE for much longer. Now, Mozilla have finally put the last nail in IE's coffin. Now, you MUST upgrade to Firefox 3, or be branded a pervert.

    • by AlphaBit (1244464) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:41PM (#29205711)

      That's why I use IE.

      "I use a Mac because I'm just better than you are"

      Your ability to combine those two statements into a single post makes you one of the most irresistable trolls I've seen...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Sleepy (4551)

      Yes, with IE you get TONS of porn in the form of pop-ups... even when you're offline.
      Great idea.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @01:57PM (#29204915)

    I'm guessing "they were afraid the browser would expose their porn collection" at work.

    • by SOdhner (1619761) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:02PM (#29205001) Homepage Journal
      That would certainly be a problem, but I think for most people porn and work are kept separate and yet they still have those concerns:

      1. Maybe you don't want your wife and kids to have porn urls popping up on the browser

      2. Maybe you don't want slashdot popping up at work, thereby allowing them to realize that it's not blocked like every other site.
      • by MBGMorden (803437) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:50PM (#29205895)

        That would certainly be a problem, but I think for most people porn and work are kept separate and yet they still have those concerns

        For the most part I'd agree. I know personally that though I surf a decent amount of porn, and I surf a lot of "non work related" sites at work (gotta break up the monotony somehow), I know very well not to touch porn sites with a 10 foot firewall when at work. It's just not something a smart person does. They'll forgive you for playing solitaire at work. They'll forgive you for Slashdot. They'll even forgive you for Myspace. You get caught surfing porn at work though and 99% of the time you're gone, no questions asked. Still, every so often we'll catch some idiot doing it, much to my amazement.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by evilkasper (1292798)
      Or to a wife or Girlfriend....
    • by Brigadier (12956) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:11PM (#29205181)

      forget porn, the last thing I need is my boss over my shoulder instructing me to type in a link and my prevalent searches of hot jobs, career builder and our competitor sites career section to pop up.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by coolsnowmen (695297)

        Don't search for new jobs at work. Aside from the ethics, it is a good way to get fired.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by springbox (853816)
        Might I suggest:
        • Firefox 3: Tools -> Clear Recent History
        • Firefox 3: Tools -> Start Private Browsing (or ctrl+shift+p)
        • Doing your search at home

        It's still possible to find your browsing history in other browsers

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Svippy (876087)

      I'm guessing "they were afraid the browser would expose their porn collection" in bed.

      Fixed it for you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by anaesthetica (596507)

      I wrote up a proposal for a passive solution to hiding porn results from the AwesomeBar, much in the same way that AdBlock Plus passively solves the problem of preventing ads from being displayed on websites: http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2009/2/5/43412/24669 [kuro5hin.org]

      Apparently there are already hooks present in Firefox's userChrome that allow the user to specify, on a per URL basis, sites to be prevented from appearing in AwesomeBar results: http://ed.agadak.net/2009/02/hiding-history-with-userchrome [agadak.net]

  • Umm .... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by krou (1027572) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @01:58PM (#29204933)
    Then making it a configurable option: Enable/disable. Or am I missing something?
    • Re:Umm .... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) * on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:16PM (#29205273) Journal

      What you're missing is that the FF developers think they know better than you. Personally, I hate the "awesomebar" because it's slow. If I have to wait for an auto complete function to catch up with my typing, something is very wrong. Auto complete should always be faster than manual entry.

      • Re:Umm .... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by pjt33 (739471) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @03:20PM (#29206471)

        It's not only slow: it also takes up way too much screen space. A line of text per entry is all I want to see, and in a nice small font. I use a plugin called Old Location Bar which solves that problem, although it can't do much about the speed.

    • Re:Umm .... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Knara (9377) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:26PM (#29205429)

      Technically, it is configurable (about:config has a property that disables the bookmark searching), just not with a neat radio button.

      Easy to find with a little googling, as well. I'd think that anyone trying to "hide" bookmarks in this way would have already figured it out.

    • Re:Umm .... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by geminidomino (614729) * on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @03:34PM (#29206679) Journal

      Then making it a configurable option: Enable/disable. Or am I missing something?

      That was suggested when Firefox 3 and the awfulbar first came out, and the general response to "this sucks!" was "they'll learn to like it, or they can use something else."

      I just wish Chrome would get extension support already...

  • Scary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kell Bengal (711123) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @01:59PM (#29204949)
    It's a scary thing when what you think is gone and hidden can suddenly be dredged up by accident at inopportune times. Same goes for files recovered from harddrives after deletion. Already, google finds those embarrassing photos from university days you thought were behind you.

    As time goes on, will we learn to be more circumspect, or will society change to accept that people are not perfect?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @01:59PM (#29204953)

    Why didn't someone tell me about this sooner? I wouldn't have wasted all this time on Slashdot, Digg, and Fark.

  • HistoryBlock (Score:4, Informative)

    by ForexCoder (1208982) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:03PM (#29205025)
    History Block [mozilla.org] fixes this problem very nicely. It let's you setup a block list of urls that should not appear in the history.
    • Re:HistoryBlock (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Eil (82413) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @04:21PM (#29207443) Homepage Journal

      History Block fixes this problem very nicely. It let's you setup a block list of urls that should not appear in the history.

      So if someone snoops around in your browser, they would see an addon called "HistoryBlock" which contains a list of all the sites you didn't want them to know you visit.

      Classic.

      • Duh (Score:4, Insightful)

        by RulerOf (975607) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @07:46PM (#29210287)

        So if someone snoops around in your browser, they would see an addon called "HistoryBlock" which contains a list of all the sites you didn't want them to know you visit.

        If you're worried about nosy people digging through your shit, you encrypt your files and lock your machine when you're not in front of it.

        If you're worried about everyone seeing a list of your favorite porn sites every single time you type a URL, then you use the addon.

        If someone's going to go out of his own way to embarrass you, then you're going to be embarrassed. When your web browser goes out of it's way to do that for him, whether he had the inclination to do it or not in the first place, then that's just fucking stupid.

        GP, thanks for the link, good sir!

      • by xtracto (837672) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @03:52AM (#29213327) Journal

        History Block fixes this problem very nicely. It let's you setup a block list of urls that should not appear in the history.

        So if someone snoops around in your browser, they would see an addon called "HistoryBlock" which contains a list of all the sites you didn't want them to know you visit.

        Classic.

        Duh, that's the reason the extension ExtensionBlock exists. You can configure it to hide any extension you do not want other people to see (HistoryBlock, refspoof, firefusk, etc).

  • by istartedi (132515) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:04PM (#29205027) Journal

    When I was in tech support 10 years ago, "How do I get rid of things in the drop-down?" was a common Netscape support question.

    Some of them were very cool and didn't say why they wanted to get rid of it. Some said "I accidently hit this link". I think I may have had one or two guys who were honest about it during my entire time there.

  • Here's a clue... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by R2.0 (532027) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:04PM (#29205031)

    What's the ranking of the question "How do I get rid of the Awsomebar" on various forums?

    Pretty high, I bet.

  • about:config (Score:3, Informative)

    by BassMan449 (1356143) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:04PM (#29205041)
    It is configurable, albeit not through the options dialog. In about:config browser.urlbar.maxRichResults = 1 or 0 1 for firefox 2 style, 0 for no search browser.urlbar.matchOnlyTyped = true That will turn it off, if it really bothers you
    • Re:about:config (Score:5, Informative)

      by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:20PM (#29205341) Homepage

      You need to use about:config for 3.0, but in 3.5 they included the option to disable location bar searching in options... that's the whole point of this story, Mozilla took user feedback based on users who wouldn't upgrade to fix the issues they had with 3.0.

      It's very easy to find now, under Privacy in Options at the bottom.

      • Re:about:config (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ae1294 (1547521) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:48PM (#29205861) Journal

        You need to use about:config for 3.0, but in 3.5 they included the option to disable location bar searching in options... that's the whole point of this story, Mozilla took user feedback based on users who wouldn't upgrade to fix the issues they had with 3.0.

        Yes but it still is missing the option that everyone I know wants which is the ability to remember sites you manually type in and not go searching high and low for random crap to fill in...

  • by JacobSteelsmith (911307) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:06PM (#29205089) Homepage
    From http://kb.mozillazine.org/Disabling_autocomplete_-_Firefox [mozillazine.org] To prevent entries from History or bookmarked items from appearing but show those that you have specifically typed into the Location Bar (url bar), use about:config to toggle browser.urlbar.matchonlytyped to true. To completely disable the Location Bar autocomplete function in Firefox 3, modify the preference browser.urlbar.maxRichResults to 0 (zero). [1]
    • by srjh (1316705) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:49PM (#29205887)

      There is no "browser.urlbar.matchonlytyped". At least not in Firefox 3.5.2...

      Turns out it's got something to do with the "browser.urlbar.default.behavior" entry, which consists of:

      1: history
      2: bookmarked
      4: match tag
      8: match title
      16: match URL
      32: match typed

      So to kill the annoying bookmark/tag/title matching, set it to 1+8+16+32 = 49

      I've also been told you can modify "places.frecency.unvisitedBookmarkBonus", but every time I do that Firefox changes it back.

      So much for user friendliness...

  • Simple Answer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rehtonAesoohC (954490) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:07PM (#29205123) Journal
    Use different browsers for different purposes.

    For example, use Google Chrome for your porn browsing, and then Firefox for your legit browsing.

    In other words... Don't cross the streams!!
    • Re:Simple Answer (Score:4, Informative)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:57PM (#29206059)

      Use different browsers for different purposes.

      Or, just use different profiles for different purposes.

      If you start firefox with these command-line options:

      -no-remote -ProfileManager

      you get a pop-up asking you which profile to use. You can have completely seperate profiles with different themes, different plugins, different bookmarks, different histories, different caches, etc -- they do not share information across profiles. You can even set a default profile so that if you don't use the profile manager, that specific profile is the one that gets loaded.

      I have a default for general browsing with almost all cookies and javascript blocked, one just for google mail that lets google set cookies and use javascript, and another one called "blank man" which is pretty open, but deletes everything on exit (cookies, history, etc) which I use one-shot at a time whenever I go to a website that wants personal information like amazon or my bank. One could easily have a 'pr0n' profile that they only run when they are in the mood and is otherwise never even seen.

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:09PM (#29205145)

    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,

    Translation: People who typed "en." to bring up the last few times they'd visited en.wikipedia.org, "fi" to bring up the last few times they'd visited "finance.google.com", or "fa" for either "fark.com" or "failblog.org", were sick and tired of having to deal with "English, ASCII, and Unicode", "How to manage a thousand Files of data", and "The Awfulbar is a Failure because it mixes URLs, "TITLE" fields in bookmarks and TITLE headers all into one giant mishmash of UI hell."

    It's got nothing to do with pr0n, it's got everything to do with the fact that some people want a URL bar to act as a Bar with URLs, and the Firefox Design Team wants the "Location" bar to deal with "everything you ever visited, ever, with ever-changing menus".

    What's the first thing experienced Windows users do when they sit down in front of a new machine? They turn off the "Disable infrequently-used menu options" option in the Start Menu, and again in all of the MS Office apps.

    Software that automatically changes menus or frequently-used options around as a "favor" to the user was bad UI practice five years ago in Windows and Office, and it's bad UI practice today in Firefox. Unfortunately, it's such a clever bad idea that it'll never go away.

    • by timster (32400) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:32PM (#29205543)

      Hey, I like the awfulbar -- but I think I may have its only solid use case. When bored, I typically go through the alphabet with the location bar to find some site which I've visited before, but is not in my usual rotation, to see if there is something interesting and new posted there.

      With the awfulbar, I get a much greater cross-section of weirdness with each letter. Just the letter C, for instance, could have Camera-related sites, Cinemark, and for no reason at all the Washington Post.

      Two-letter combinations are even better. "GH" gives me Ghostbusters, and a random Mac vs Linux thread. "EW" gives me BBC News and a review of Ponyo. The wonders never cease.

      SHOULD a major interface element behave in a random and bizarre fashion? Well, probably not.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke (6130)

      Translation: People who typed "en." to bring up the last few times they'd visited en.wikipedia.org, "fi" to bring up the last few times they'd visited "finance.google.com", or "fa" for either "fark.com" or "failblog.org", were sick and tired of having to deal with "English, ASCII, and Unicode"

      I really don't understand this problem. The first time I typed in "en" to get to wikipedia, sure a ton of other stuff -- in my case all of it being other urls I'd visited that started with en -- comes up, but then I s

    • by ShakaUVM (157947) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:48PM (#29205873) Homepage Journal

      It's got everything to do with the fact that some people want a URL bar to act as a Bar with URLs, and the Firefox Design Team wants the "Location" bar to deal with "everything you ever visited, ever, with ever-changing menus".

      Amen, brother.

      I didn't install Firefox 3 until there was a plugin to kill the Awesomebar. It really was a dealbreaker for me.

      I hate UIs that try to be helpful but end up distracting or otherwise messing up a clean interface.

      The old Google autocomplete was a great example of this - it'd type directly into the search bar while you typed in your search term, which means that if you typoed and needed to delete the last key entered, you'd delete the autocomplete instead, which broke, you know, typing. It was also distracting seeing text appear where you're typing, not only because it was constantly flashing words before your eyes, but also because if you're a touch typist you use the text up there to make sure you haven't typoed, and seeing an 'f' appear on the screen when you're about to type an 'm' triggers that correction reflex.

      The current design is much better, with the dropdown box at least off to the side while you type in your search term.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by booyabazooka (833351)

      And for another horrible decision, consider how they handle keywords.

      The Keyword functionality is a great idea in Firefox, but it feels like the devs hate it - they hide it away in the UI, it's underfeatured, and it doesn't work with Awful Bar. If I type "wp Sasquatch" to get to the wikipedia page for Sasquatch, that doesn't get saved in the history - and the Great Bar doesn't realize that what you're typing may be using a keyword. So when I again type "wp Sasq", odds are I just get no results at all from

  • by atarione (601740) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:19PM (#29205331)

    you can use the profile manger to make a "special" (/cough pron) profile then switch to that for your "special" browsing needs then swtich back to you wife/boss/kid ..etc safe profile when you are ummm done..... YOU SICK BASTARD =p

    http://kb.mozillazine.org/Profile_Manager [mozillazine.org]

  • So? Fix it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ilgaz (86384) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:46PM (#29205817) Homepage

    Firefox'es success is mainly tied to their focus on filling end user needs, listening to end users for suggestions instead of replying .

    If this is a problem enough to make people stay on old version, it should be fixed somehow instead of blogging or joking about it. Think like they are your customers while you don't actually sell a product and treat them same way.

    Do you know how Cisco etc. survived in darkest days of dotcom crash? Who needed the best routers and servers to serve their customers?

  • by Ian Alexander (997430) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:54PM (#29205981)
    Go to the preferences dialog, go to "Privacy" tab. There's an option which allows you to pick what kinds of data the Location Bar should look through.

    Select "nothing" and it won't look through either your history or your bookmarks.
  • by DrXym (126579) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:54PM (#29205989)
    Firefox has "helpful" feature where if it crashes it sticks up a "Well that was embarrassing" error which lists all the sites you were on when it went down and do you want to open them again. That's great except it completely pisses all over the privacy settings.

    I'm sure that if you fire up about:config you might be able to tweak this behaviour but really by default it should be disabled, or at least disabled if history is set to 0. It's a monumental oversight to leave it the way it is and I hope it is fixed.

  • Sounds interesting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BigBadBus (653823) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @02:54PM (#29205991) Homepage
    But according to my statistics, Firefox 3 is the most used browser. [paullee.com] If this story is true, then how many more would switch?
  • by Wansu (846) on Wednesday August 26, 2009 @03:49PM (#29206905)

    I saw quite a few complaints about this behavior early on. The response was essentially that's tough, take it or leave it. Apparently a number of users left it.

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