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Emblematic Group and Mozilla Team Up to Showcase Next Generation of Storytelling on the Web

wo, 22/05/2019 - 18:00

Everything you share on the internet is a story. You read blog posts and watch videos that make you feel connected to people across the world. Virtual Reality has made these experiences even stronger, but it wasn’t available to most people as a storytelling tool, until now.

This breakthrough in accessibility comes from VR pioneer and award winning journalist, Nonny de la Peña, who is founder & CEO of the immersive technology company Emblematic Group. Their newest initiative was to launch a browser based platform that allows anyone to tap into the immersive power of virtual reality, regardless of their technical background. That is exactly what they did with REACH. With support from like minded partners such as Mozilla and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, de la Peña launched the platform at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. REACH completely simplifies authorship and distribution of virtual reality experiences using a simple drag and drop interface which anyone can access from any device, including a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

VR for Storytelling

De la Peña was one of the first to recognize that VR is a powerful way to tell stories. As an international journalist, she knew what it took to write stories that touch people on a deep level. Putting people inside those stories made sense to her, and as supporters of a free and open web, Mozilla wanted to support her mission.

The stories de la Peña tells in virtual reality are beautiful and sometimes, gut-wrenching. You feel the raw emotion of a protect at an abortion clinic and experience the loneliness of a solitary confinement cell.

The team at Emblematic wanted to do more than create, they wanted to make it easy for people without coding experience to tell their own stories in VR. REACH gives all VR storytellers a voice, something that Mozilla knows is crucial for the future of the internet.

VR for Creation


“What if VR took you somewhere you didn’t necessarily know you wanted to go, but needed to see to fully comprehend? That’s the goal of REACH.”
– Nonny de la Peña


REACH uses WebVR and other web technologies to allow anyone to create their own virtual reality experiences. It has a simple drag-and-drop interface that lets users place real people into high-res 3D environments and then share the results across multiple platforms.

With the REACH platform, you can host and distribute 3D models. These can be used by first-time content makers, veteran creators and news organizations to create innovative and inexpensive “walk around” VR content.

“I wanted people to feel the whole story with their bodies, not just with their minds.”
– Nonny de la Peña.”


VR for Journalism

Mozilla hosts Developer Roadshows to help people learn the skills to build the web. That’s why we partnered with Emblematic for a recent event. There, Rick Adams–a news correspondent for Los Angeles–who has been using an early version of REACH in news reporting said that it’s perfect for journalists with average technical skills.

“You can place yourself or any of your interviewees into the environment, create, and then open on the web with a link, which is revolutionary. You create a complex and rich story, allowing people to really feel like they are involved in the story themselves.”


VR for the Web

REACH is revolutionary for a number of reasons but especially because it is \ built in WebVR. WebVR was created by Mozilla to make immersive content accessible on the web. This means that anyone with a computer, tablet or smartphone can use REACH. If you don’t have a pricey headset, you can still enjoy WebVR experiences like REACH through your browser. All it takes is a link.

This is critical if we want this new medium to grow and it’s why De La Peña chose to create a WebVR platform like REACH that lowers the barrier to entry and puts VR in the hands of the people.

Innovators like Nonny de la Peña have the vision, drive, and stubborn optimism to create positive change in the world. By supporting efforts like REACH, you can empower creators to build experiences that speak to you and tell stories that help break down the walls that divide us.

REACH is currently in beta. You can sign up to be a beta tester at

To learn more about Mixed Reality at Mozilla, visit

The post Emblematic Group and Mozilla Team Up to Showcase Next Generation of Storytelling on the Web appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

Latest Firefox Release is Faster than Ever

di, 21/05/2019 - 15:01

With the introduction of the new Firefox Quantum browser in 2017 we changed the look, feel, and performance of our core product. Since then we have launched new products to complement your experience when you’re using Firefox and serve you beyond the browser. This includes Facebook Container, Firefox Monitor and Firefox Send. Collectively, they work to protect your privacy and keep you safe so you can do the things you love online with ease and peace of mind. We’ve been delivering on that promise to you for more than twenty years by putting your security and privacy first in the building of products that are open and accessible to all.

Today’s new Firefox release continues to bring fast and private together right at the crossroads of performance and security. It includes improvements that continue to keep Firefox fast while giving you more control and assurance through new features that your personal information is safe while you’re online with us.

To see how much faster Firefox is today take a look:

How did we make Firefox faster?

To make Firefox faster, we simply prioritized our performance management “to-do” list. We applied many of the same principles of time management just like you might prioritize your own urgent needs. For example, before you go on a road trip, you check for a full tank of gas, make sure you have enough oil, or have the right air pressure in your tires.

For this latest Firefox release, we adopted the well-known time management strategy of “procrastinate on purpose.” The result is that Firefox is better at performing tasks at the optimal time. Here’s how we reorganized our to-do list to make Firefox faster:

    • Deprioritize least commonly used features: We reviewed areas that we felt could be delayed and delivered on “painting” the page faster so you can browse quicker. This includes delaying set Timeout in order to prioritize scripts for things you need first while delaying others to help make the main scripts for Instagram, Amazon and Google searches execute 40-80% faster; scanning for alternative style sheets after page load; and not loading the auto-fill module unless there is an actual form to complete.
    • Suspend Idle Tabs: You shouldn’t feel guilty about opening a zillion tabs, but keeping all those tabs open uses your computer’s memory and slows down its performance. Firefox will now detect if your computer’s memory is running low, which we define as lower than 400MB, and suspend unused tabs that you haven’t used or looked at in a while. Rest assured if you decide you want to review that webpage, simply click on the tab, and it will reload where you left off.
    • Faster startup after customization: For users who have customized their browser with an add-on like a favorite theme, for example changing it to the seasons of the year, or utilizing one of the popular ad-blockers, we’ve made it so that the browser skips a bunch of unnecessary work during subsequent start-ups.
New Privacy Protections

Privacy has always been core to Mozilla’s mission, and the recent news and events have given people more reason to care about their privacy while online. In 2018, we launched privacy-focused features like opt-in Tracking Protection on the desktop, Tracking protection by default on iOS, and our popular Facebook Container Extension.

For today’s release we continue to bring you privacy features and set protections to help you feel safe online when you are with Firefox. Today’s privacy features include:

  • Blocking fingerprinting and cryptomining: In August 2018, we shared our adapted approach to anti-tracking to address growing consumer demand for features and services that respect online privacy. One of the three key areas we said we’d tackle was mitigating harmful practices like fingerprinting which builds a digital fingerprint that tracks you across the web, and cryptomining which uses the power of your computer’s CPU to generate cryptocurrency for someone else’s benefit. Based on recent testing of this feature in our pre-release channels last month, today’s Firefox release gives you the option to “flip a switch” in the browser and protect yourself from these nefarious practices.
          • To turn this feature on click on the small “i” icon in the address bar and under Content Blocking, click on the Custom gear on the right side. The other option is to go to your Preferences. Click on Privacy & Security on the left hand side. From there, users will see Content Blocking listed at the top. Select Custom and check “Cryptominers” and “Fingerprinters” so that they are both blocked.

Block cryptominers and fingerprinters

  • Personalize your Private Browsing Experience: Of the many types of privacy protections that Firefox offers, Private Browsing continues to be one of our most popular features. Private Browsing deletes cookies when you close the browser window and doesn’t track history. Plus, Private Browsing also blocks tracking cookies by default. Based on user feedback, we’re giving more controls for you to get the most out of their Private Browsing experience.
          • Saving Passwords –  Although you may enjoy what Private Browsing has to offer, you may still want some of the convenience from a typical Firefox experience. This included not having to type in passwords each time you visit a site. In today’s release, you can visit a site in Private Browsing without the hassle of typing in your password each time. Registering and saving passwords for a website in Private Browsing will work just as it does in normal mode.
          • Enable or Disable add-ons/web extensions – Starting with today’s release, you can now decide which extensions you want to enable or disable in Private Browsing. As part of installing an extension, Firefox will ask if it should be allowed to run in Private Browsing, with a default of Don’t Allow. For extensions you’ve installed before today’s release, you can go to your Add-Ons menu and enable or disable for Private Browsing by simply clicking on the extension you’d like to manage.

Manage existing add-ons

Additional features in today’s release:
        • Online accessibility for all – Mozilla has always strived to make the web easier to access for everyone. We’re excited to roll out a fully keyboard accessible browser toolbar in today’s release. To use this feature, simply press the “tab” or “arrow” keys to reach the buttons on the right end of the toolbar including their extension buttons, the toolbar button overflow panel and the main Firefox menu. This is just one more step forward in making access to the web easier for everyone, no matter what your abilities are. To learn about our work on accessibility, you can read more on our Internet Citizen blog.
        • WebRender Update – We will be shipping WebRender to a small group of users, specifically Windows 10 desktop users with NVIDIA graphics cards. Last year we talked about integrating WebRender, our next-generation GPU-based 2D rendering engine. WebRender will help make browsing the web feel faster, efficient, and smoother by moving core graphics rendering processes to the Graphics Processing Unit. We are starting with this group of users and plan to roll out this feature throughout the year. To learn more visit here.
        • Smoother video playback with today’s AV1 Update – AV1 is the new royalty-free video format jointly developed by Mozilla, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and others as part of the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia). We first provided AV1 support by shipping the reference decoder in January’s Firefox release. Today’s Firefox release is updated to use the newer, higher-performance AV1 decoder known as dav1d. We have seen great growth in the use of AV1 even in just a few months, with our latest figures showing that 11.8% of video playback in Firefox Beta used AV1, up from 0.85% in February and 3% in March.

To see what else is new or what we’ve changed in today’s release, you can check out our release notes.

Check out and download the latest version of Firefox Quantum, available here.


The post Latest Firefox Release is Faster than Ever appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

Google’s Ad API is Better Than Facebook’s, But…

vr, 10/05/2019 - 18:00
… with a few important omissions. Google’s tool meets four of experts’ five minimum standards


Last month, Mozilla released an analysis of Facebook’s ad archive API, a tool that allows researchers to understand how political ads are being targeted to Facebook users. Our goal: To determine if Facebook had fulfilled its promise to make political advertising more transparent. (It did not.)

Today, we’re releasing an analysis of Google’s ad archive API. Google also promised the European Union it would release an ad transparency tool ahead of the 2019 EU Parliament elections.

Our finding: Google’s API is a lot better than Facebook’s, but is still incomplete. Google’s API meets four of experts’ five minimum standards. (Facebook met two.)

Google does much better than Facebook in providing access to the data in a format that allows for real research and analysis. That is a hugely important requirement; this is a baseline researchers need. But while the data is usable, it isn’t complete. Google doesn’t provide data on the targeting criteria advertisers use, making it more difficult to determine whom people are trying to influence or how information is really spreading across the platform.

Below are the specifics of our Google API analysis:


Researchers’ guideline: A functional, open API should have comprehensive political advertising content.

Google’s API: The full list of ads, campaigns, and advertisers are available, and can be searched and filtered. The entire database can be downloaded in bulk and analyzed at scale. There are shortcomings, however: There is no data on the audience the ads reached, like their gender, age, or region. And Google has included fewer ads in their database than Facebook, perhaps due to a narrower definition of “political ads.”

[2] ❌

Researchers’ guideline: A functional, open API should provide the content of the advertisement and information about targeting criteria.

Google’s API: While Google’s API does provide the content of the advertisements, like Facebook, it provides no information on targeting criteria, nor does the API provide engagement data (e.g., clicks). Targeting and engagement data is critical for researchers because it lets them see what types of users an advertiser is trying to influence, and whether or not their attempts were successful.


Researchers’ guideline: A functional, open API should have up-to-date and historical data access.

Google’s API: The API appears to be up to date.

[4] ✅

Researchers’ guideline: A functional, open API should be accessible to and shareable with the general public.

Google’s API: Public access to the API is available through the Google Cloud Public Datasets program.

[5] ✅

Researchers’ guideline: A functional, open API should empower, not limit, research and analysis.

Google’s API: The tool has components that facilitate research, like: bulk download capabilities; no problematic bandwidth limits; search filters; and unique URLs for ads.


Overall: While the company gets a passing grade, Google doesn’t sufficiently allow researchers to study disinformation on its platform. The company also significantly delayed the release of their API, unveiling it only weeks before the upcoming EU elections and nearly two months after the originally promised deadline.

With the EU elections fewer than two weeks away, we hope Google (and Facebook) take action swiftly to improve their ad APIs — action that should have been taken months ago.

The post Google’s Ad API is Better Than Facebook’s, But… appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet

What we do when things go wrong

do, 09/05/2019 - 22:53

We strive to make Firefox a great experience. Last weekend we failed, and we’re sorry.

An error on our part prevented new add-ons from being installed, and stopped existing add-ons from working. Now that we’ve been able to restore this functionality for the majority of Firefox users, we want to explain a bit about what happened and tell you what comes next.

Add-ons are an important feature of Firefox. They enable you to customize your browser and add valuable functionality to your online experience. We know how important this is, which is why we’ve spent a great deal of time over the past few years coming up with ways to make add-ons safer and more secure. However, because add-ons are so powerful, we’ve also worked hard to build and deploy systems to protect you from malicious add-ons. The problem here was an implementation error in one such system, with the failure mode being that add-ons were disabled. Although we believe that the basic design of our add-ons system is sound, we will be working to refine these systems so similar problems do not occur in the future.

In order to address this issue as quickly as possible, we used our “Studies” system to deploy the initial fix, which requires users to be opted in to Telemetry.  Some users who had opted out of Telemetry opted back in, in order to get the initial fix as soon as possible. As we announced in the Firefox Add-ons blog at 2019-05-08T23:28:00Z there is now no longer a need to have Studies on to receive updates anymore; please check that your settings match your personal preferences before we re-enable Studies, which will happen sometime after 2019-05-13T16:00:00Z. In order to respect our users’ potential intentions as much as possible, based on our current set up, we will be deleting all of our source Telemetry and Studies data for our entire user population collected between 2019-05-04T11:00:00Z and 2019-05-11T11:00:00Z.

Our CTO, Eric Rescorla, shares more about what happened technically in this post.

We would like to extend our thanks to the people who worked hard to address this issue, including the hundred or so community members and employees localizing content and answering questions on, Twitter, and Reddit.

There’s a lot more detail we will be sharing as part of a longer post-mortem which we will make public — including details on how we went about fixing this problem and why we chose this approach. You deserve a full accounting, but we didn’t want to wait until that process was complete to tell you what we knew so far. We let you down and what happened might have shaken your confidence in us a bit, but we hope that you’ll give us a chance to earn it back.

The post What we do when things go wrong appeared first on The Mozilla Blog.

Categorieën: Mozilla-nl planet