Firefox just gave 3 billion Google Chrome users a reason to switch

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Google’s 3 billion Chrome users now have a reason to switch to Firefox, as the privacy-focused browser just confirmed some big news. The announcement is about ad blockers and changes to Google Chrome called Manifest V3, which may cause some ad blockers to break.

It’s been several years in the making, but many Chrome users are concerned that their privacy-focused ad blocker add-ons won’t work in Manifest V3.

Although Firefox has always been a viable alternative to Chrome, uncertainty over whether Firefox would also include the changes has kept many Google users from looking for an alternative. That may now change, as Firefox has publicly announced that its approach to Manifest V3 means ad blockers will continue to work in its own browser.

WebRequest API support

In a blog post, Firefox owner Mozilla said it will maintain support for the blocking version of the WebRequest API in Manifest V3, which will retain more privacy-focused ad-blocking extensions for its users. He wrote :

“One of the most controversial changes to Chrome’s MV3 approach is the removal of WebRequest blocking, which provides an essential level of power and flexibility to enable advanced privacy and content blocking features. Unfortunately, this power has also been used to harm users in various ways. Chrome’s solution in MV3 was to define a narrower scope API (declarativeNetRequest) as a replacement. However, this will limit the capabilities of certain types of privacy extensions without a replacement adequate.

“Mozilla will maintain support for blocking WebRequest in MV3. To maximize compatibility with other browsers, we will also provide support for declarativeNetRequest. We will continue to work with content blockers and other key consumers of this API to identify current and future alternatives, if any. Content blocking is one of the most important use cases for extensions, and we are committed to ensuring that Firefox users have access to the best privacy tools available.

Chrome Manifest V3 Reviews

Google says changes in Manifest V3, including its overhaul of the permissions system by removing the blocking version of WebRequest, will increase security and privacy while improving performance. But some Chrome critics have noted that Manifest V3’s changes are more suited to Google’s browser, since the tech giant’s business model is based on advertising.

So much so that privacy advocates EFF called Chrome’s Manifest V3 “misleading and threatening.”

Manifest V3 “is another example of the conflict of interest inherent in having Google control both the dominant web browser and one of the largest ad networks on the internet,” EFF said.

Ad blockers such as Ghostery explained how the changes will affect their extensions. Ghostery CEO Jean-Paul Schmetz told tech site The Verge: “While Google pushes a ‘privacy by design’ message to the surface, it still asserts a monopoly over the entire ecosystem by stifling digital privacy companies that are already working to put users back in control of their data.

I asked Google for a comment on this article and will update if the company responds.

Switch from Chrome

Support for Manifest V2 ends in January 2023 and for enterprise users in June 2023, now is a good time to make the switch. Switching from Chrome to Firefox is possible, and online guides are available to explain how best to do so.

The only problem is that some tools are optimized for Chromium-based browsers, especially in a professional environment. Chromium-based Chrome alternatives include Brave, Microsoft Edge, Vivaldi, and Opera, but these browsers could also be forced to adopt Manifest V3 changes in full.

For personal use, Firefox is definitely a viable alternative to Chrome. The browser includes a bunch of privacy-focused features, and it’s constantly improving.

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