Firefox caves to pressure, to shut down controversial screenshot upload feature

Mozilla has positioned Firefox as the champion of privacy and independence on the internet but appears to be increasingly at risk of losing the trust of users.

The latest controversy regarding the company is its implementation of the screenshot feature, which uses clear dark patterns to trick users into uploading screenshots to their online screenshot gallery, which promoted but does not require the use of your Firefox Account.

While the developers have denied that this was their intention, the mislabelled Save button is clearly highlighted as the default choice, while the actual save to your PC button is an uninformative grey down arrow.

Users complained of course, with one Redditor saying:

Just a friendly warning, as it shocked the hell out of me, and seems pretty dirty.

Right click -> Take a Screenshot -> Save

This button uploads the screenshot without any warning or confirmation. The “correct” button is the small grey mystery meat arrow next to the big blue “Save” button.

Searching about:config I found the extensions.screenshots.upload-disabled pref which replaces the “Save” button with a “Download” button (I don’t think they know what those words mean) which saves the screenshot.

Another noted:

This is one of the stupidity of the screenshot function – I uploaded quite a lot of screenshots to the cloud when I wanted to save them! IMHO this is a bug and it should be named Upload instead of save (and adding arrow with cloud is not enough!)

While the dev team eventually changed the label to Upload, the change never made it to a release version of Firefox. Now however Mozilla has said they are planning to abolish the whole feature, saying:

Screenshots users will still be able to crop shots, capture visible parts of pages and even capture full web pages. Users will continue to be able to download these images and copy them to their clipboard.

What is changing is that in 2019 users will no longer have the option to save screenshots to a standalone server hosted by Firefox. Previously, shots could be saved to our server, expiring after two weeks unless a user expressly chose to save them for longer.

Mozilla denied that the decision was due to pressure from users, but admitted that the save to cloud feature was by far the least used option, hence their decision to close the service, which of course raises the question of why they decided to push it so aggressively.

Either way, it should soon be more difficult to accidentally upload your company secrets to the cloud. The Upload button will be removed in Firefox 67 while the server will be disabled in May this year.

Do our readers agree with Mozilla appears to have become more concerned with the interest of the company than their users? Let us know below.