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Mozilla has released Firefox 87 for Macs, Windows, and Linux machines, introducing a new intelligent tracker blocking mechanism called SmartBlock.

mozilla-firefox-banner.jpg

Since 2015, Firefox has included a built-in Content Blocking feature that automatically blocks third-party scripts, images, and other content from being loaded from cross-site tracking companies in Private Browsing windows and Strict Tracking Protection Mode.

Mozilla recognizes that the feature sometimes blocks legitimate elements of websites which can cause them to malfunction. SmartBlock aims to provide a solution to this problem without compromising user privacy. From the company's blog:
In building these extra-strong privacy protections in Private Browsing windows and Strict Mode, we have been confronted with a fundamental problem: introducing a policy that outright blocks trackers on the web inevitably risks blocking components that are essential for some websites to function properly. This can result in images not appearing, features not working, poor performance, or even the entire page not loading at all.

To reduce this breakage, Firefox 87 is now introducing a new privacy feature we are calling SmartBlock. SmartBlock intelligently fixes up web pages that are broken by our tracking protections, without compromising user privacy.
Mozilla says SmartBlock works by providing local stand-ins for blocked third-party tracking scripts that behave "just enough" like the original ones to make sure that the website works properly.

The stand-ins come built-in to Firefox, so no third-party content from the trackers is loaded by the browser, meaning they can't track users this way. According to the developers, SmartBlock will silently stand in for several common scripts classified as trackers on the Disconnect Tracking Protection List, and should provide a noticeable performance improvement while browsing.

The previous version of the browser introduced Total Cookie Protection, which is designed to stop cookies from tracking users across the web. Firefox 87, the latest update, is available now from the Mozilla website.

Article Link: Firefox 87 Introduces 'SmartBlock' Private Browsing Feature to Fix Websites Broken By Tracking Protections
 

Nozuka

macrumors 68030
Jul 3, 2012
2,931
4,382
I love their Container feature. You can create seperate "Cookie containers" for websites like Facebook, Youtube, etc.
That way you will keep your settings on these websites, but when you visit other websites, they can't abuse these cookies for tracking you, since they are not available there. Or a seperate container for e-banking.

It also allows you to have several containers for the same website, so you can use more than one user on the same website. Very convenient if you have a personal and a business Office 365 account, for example.

Requires the extension from firefox: "Multi-account Containers" to make full use of it.
 

adrianlondon

macrumors 68040
Nov 28, 2013
3,307
3,775
Switzerland
Never been much of a Firefox user, but I applaud Firefox for their actions on privacy.
I'm surprised that Firefox actually runs faster on my MBA (Big Sur latest beta) than Safari, although I think that's due to the amount of stuff it natively blocks, along with uBlock Origin, rather than any rendering advantages.

Two main reasons I prefer Firefox. (1) cookie control especially with Containers and (2) the way going to previous pages while reading forums doesn't reload and send pages pack to the top. Oh, and (3) uBlock Origin.
 

laz232

macrumors 6502a
Feb 4, 2016
671
1,293
At a café near you
I love their Container feature. You can create seperate "Cookie containers" for websites like Facebook, Youtube, etc.
That way you will keep your settings on these websites, but when you visit other websites, they can't abuse these cookies for tracking you, since they are not available there. Or a seperate container for e-banking.

It also allows you to have several containers for the same website, so you can use more than one user on the same website. Very convenient if you have a personal and a business Office 365 account, for example.

Requires the extension from firefox: "Multi-account Containers" to make full use of it.

I like the idea of Containers - and use them. But like all things Mozilla, the implementation is: convoluted with bad UI and pitifully explained.

For example:
1. open site
2. realise you want it in a container
select ...
Always open this site in a container

Now - if there is no relevant container, you have to close that menu - go to the containers icon, go to "manage container" add a container
then go back to the original menu and add the site to it.
Convoluted.

Edit: added example
 
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macbookpro212

macrumors newbie
Sep 5, 2014
20
42
The browser is the most important software on any operating system. Unfortunately they are not playing well with advertising technology. They do not accommodate ads neither do they control ad experience.

Ad-networks had full control over ads which lead to the pop-up hell of the 1990's to early 2000's followed by overloaded ads on pages and privacy issues that we are witnessing.

As an example, a browser could control number of ads, file size of ads, performance of ads and data collection limits of ads. If these metrics were controlled from the start then the general ad experience would have been much better and browsers could have had the upper hand on the overall browsing experience.

Right now all the browsers are just doing patch jobs to protect the consumer and enhance user experience. This is not a long term plan. There will be other issues in the future as well.
 

Populus

macrumors 68020
Aug 24, 2012
2,181
2,546
Valencia, Spain.
I'm surprised that Firefox actually runs faster on my MBA (Big Sur latest beta) than Safari, although I think that's due to the amount of stuff it natively blocks, along with uBlock Origin, rather than any rendering advantages.

Two main reasons I prefer Firefox. (1) cookie control especially with Containers and (2) the way going to previous pages while reading forums doesn't reload and send pages pack to the top. Oh, and (3) uBlock Origin.
Do you know of any ad-blocker that respects your privacy? I mostly use Safari with a content blocker that use Apple’s API, that way the developer cannot see anything from what I do on the web. However, this is different for third party browsers. I guess uBlock Origin is open source, but does that guarantee they cannot see what I do on the web and use my data? I guess I can keep using Safari for the sensitive websites, and Firefox only as a secondary browser.
 

adrianlondon

macrumors 68040
Nov 28, 2013
3,307
3,775
Switzerland
Do you know of any ad-blocker that respects your privacy? I mostly use Safari with a content blocker that use Apple’s API, that way the developer cannot see anything from what I do on the web. However, this is different for third party browsers. I guess uBlock Origin is open source, but does that guarantee they cannot see what I do on the web and use my data? I guess I can keep using Safari for the sensitive websites, and Firefox only as a secondary browser.
I'm not an expert. I use uBlock Origin because it does a great job blocking ads, is fast at what it does, and is customisable. Firefox allows extensions (such as uBlock Origin) to be automatically disabled in private browsing mode, so you could open sensitive websites in that mode and rely on Firefox's anti-tracking features only. Or you can turn uBlock Origin off for a particular URL/website.

I leave it on as I'm not aware of any security risk in doing so. Although, as I say, this isn't my area of expertise and I've done no research into it :)
 

MasterTX

macrumors newbie
Jan 8, 2021
1
1
I love their Container feature. You can create seperate "Cookie containers" for websites like Facebook, Youtube, etc.
That way you will keep your settings on these websites, but when you visit other websites, they can't abuse these cookies for tracking you, since they are not available there. Or a seperate container for e-banking.

It also allows you to have several containers for the same website, so you can use more than one user on the same website. Very convenient if you have a personal and a business Office 365 account, for example.

Requires the extension from firefox: "Multi-account Containers" to make full use of it.
I get the "Multi-account Containers" but website settings should not be kept in third-party cookies. They should be in first-party cookies, which are accessible only for that domain, and therefore good for storing settings etc.

Third-party cookies are used mostly for cross-site tracking and they should be blocked by all browsers to force web developers into using first-party cookies. I don't see why anything related to a website functionality would need be stored in third-party cookies. First-party cookies and a good back-end is all you need.
 
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matrix07

macrumors 604
Jun 24, 2010
7,211
4,037
I love their Container feature. You can create seperate "Cookie containers" for websites like Facebook, Youtube, etc.
That way you will keep your settings on these websites, but when you visit other websites, they can't abuse these cookies for tracking you, since they are not available there. Or a seperate container for e-banking.

It also allows you to have several containers for the same website, so you can use more than one user on the same website. Very convenient if you have a personal and a business Office 365 account, for example.

Requires the extension from firefox: "Multi-account Containers" to make full use of it.
Sounds useful. Would love to learn to use this.
 

SirAnthonyHopkins

macrumors 6502a
Sep 29, 2020
604
1,145
Faster than Safari?

For me it is yeah. Safari isn't slow but Firefox is just incredibly quick, it's like pages have all already been cached.

I would like to move over to using Firefox as my main browser but it's the lack of being able to run ad-blocking and tracker-blocking on iOS, and therefore not sync between my mobile and desktop browsers, that stops me.
 

ImaginaryNerve

macrumors member
Nov 11, 2020
81
70
Daytona Beach - Florida
Pretty much use both Firefox and Safari on my Mac, but on Windows am 100% Firefox. Excellent browser and Mozilla have been doing very good work on security and privacy.
Same. I use Safari for streaming (except Disney+, because Safari's fun memory issue), for development research and sites, and for our web page development. I use FireFox for all my personal/fun stuff like FB and the like, and for for some of our web development. I actually even have M1 Edge installed and occasionally use that but I still swap between Safari and FFx a lot.

On my Windows PC, its all Firefox, all the time.
 
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ian87w

macrumors 601
Feb 22, 2020
4,384
6,300
Indonesia
After reading the blog, so this only works in private browsing mode? Any settings I should change from the default? I'm asking because there's no actual settings called "SmartBlock."
 

Binshakerr

macrumors newbie
Mar 24, 2021
1
2
I like the spirit of Firefox and would most certainly use it on Linux. However, right now, it is really hard to do better than Safari on iOS/macOS or Edge on Windows, IMO. The close integration into OS works well for these two, with noticeable speed benefits for hi-quality in-browser video streaming, etc.
Alot of cases video streaming is broken on Safari but works very well in firefox and chrome
 

ImaginaryNerve

macrumors member
Nov 11, 2020
81
70
Daytona Beach - Florida
Alot of cases video streaming is broken on Safari but works very well in firefox and chrome
Video streaming, any website with dynamic loading like FB and Reddit, I saw reports of issues with websites like Mega.nz, essentially any site that'll store a bunch of data, even pass-through data like streaming. Though its my understanding that there's a tech preview out there somewhere for Safari that clears up this issue. So keeping my fingers crossed for a release soon. I'd like my HD Disney+, please, thank you, Apple.
 

Sasparilla

macrumors 68000
Jul 6, 2012
1,683
2,829
Writing this up in Firefox on Mac. Use it and uBlock Origin as my main with Safari as well (and Vivaldi & uBlock a bit).

As a bit of background, uBlock Origin was created by a guy who wanted a ad blocker that respected people's privacy - as most ad blockers harvest user data. It'll cut down the amount of data hosed into your browser from a website often by 50% or more (there is so much junk passed in) compared to a straight on non use.
 
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meetajhu

macrumors member
Apr 13, 2014
36
39
The only browser that scrolls smoothly even on 360hz monitor. Chrome can't even 60fps. Safari stutter at higher 120+ hz.
 

ddtmm

macrumors regular
Jul 12, 2010
152
416
Firefox has made huge progress in the last few years. It's my default on Windows and about 50/50 use on Mac, the other being Safari. They have done some great work in the anti-tracking world with their container approach to isolating what websites can and can't see is impressive. It detects Facebook tracking and automatically blocks it. Info here...

I'm surprised Facebook is so upset with Apple's anti-tracking efforts and haven't said anything about Firefox. Says to me that anti-tracking was never the root issue to begin with.

My experience has been that Firefox works amazingly on Mac. No disappointments at all.
 
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