Do Not Track fine-tuning in Firefox 21
The latest update to desktop Firefox brings more Do Not Track options and more social networking integration, while Android Firefox gets open source fonts for easier reading on smartphone screens.
A more granular approach to how Firefox has implemented the controversial "Do Not Track" setting leads off the changes to Firefox 21, which updated on Tuesday. Also in the browser is support for more social networks including MSN Now and a "Firefox Health Report."
More options for the Social API, which debuted at the end of last year with Facebook Messenger integration, allows Firefox 21 (download for Windows | Mac | Linux) to work with MSN Now, Cliqz, China's Weibo, and the Japan-only Mixi. While there's no doubt that they're not even on a scale to compete with Facebook, they still command millions of combined users. Wikipedia's Weibo page said that the service alone had 368 million users as of mid-2012.
Mozilla has lofty goals for the Social API that strech beyond just social networks. "The Social API has endless potential for integrating social networks, e-mail, finance, music, cloud possibilities, services, to-do lists, sports, news and other applications into your Firefox experience," the company wrote on its blog announcing the update.
As with the Facebook integration, which was restricted to little more than Messenger, Mozilla has focused the Social API on delivering limited features of a social network, as opposed to all the features a social site offers. Mixi integration connects its Japanese-speaking Firefox users with their comment and photo streams. Mozilla has yet to summarize which aspects of Weibo are supported in the Social API sidebar.
The MSN Now integration (sign-in) brings trends collected from Facebook, Twitter, Bing, and BreakingNews.com to its Social API sidebar. Cliqz integration (sign-in) appears similar and creates a personalized news stream that follows people as well as stories and trends, and allows you to save stories to read later.
Do Not Track has remained unchanged since it debuted in 2011's Firefox 4. It sends a signal to Web sites that the visitor should not be followed as they explore your site or move on to different ones. Abiding by that signal is completely voluntary. Sid Stamm, Firefox's privacy lead engineer, wrote that the Do Not Track goal is "to help each individual say what they want, whether it's pro-tracking or not."