THE MOZILLA FOUNDATION has posted a new page inviting users to a paid version of its Firefox browser (we suggested "Flaming Dingo" for a name) that blocks all advertising.
It's a heck of a boast but fits in with Firefox's current strategy of enhancing privacy for users, wherever possible.
Clicking through to subscribe to the $4.99 service reveals that it isn't actually available yet and invites you to take a survey on what you think of the idea. The not-for-profit company says it will distribute subscription money amongst partner sites to help 'keep the lights on'. There's also an option to be notified when the service starts.
Mozilla had dropped hints that it was looking towards an optional subscription model and has added assurances that it won't mean that any Firefox features are removed from the free version - the only difference will be the adverts.
The ad-free version of Firefox appears to be a partnership with Scroll, an existing ad-blocking service which is already available in closed beta.
For sites like ours, it's a double-edged sword. We've spent years trying to remind people that websites don't write themselves and that adverts are what, to paraphrase Mozilla, ‘keeps the lights on'. However, we're also aware of how annoying they can be, and if the model proves to be sustainable, it'd be great for us to be able to offer this service. Time will tell if it's practical.
It's important to remember that this isn't blanket ad-blocking, there are plenty of apps for that. This is about a completely different model of funding the internet, where people can choose ads, or pay their way out of them, a little bit like buying the "Pro" version of a free app.
We're aware that some of our fellow tech sites are already signed up to the service. Whether we follow suit will depend on what the offer actually looks like when it goes live, and if $4.99 is enough to 'keep the lights on' between all the sites participating because our gut is, it won't. μ
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