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Firefox to crack down on pesky notification pop-ups

The dialog boxes fail to win us over 99% of the time. Why put up with them?

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- 01:55
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Firefox will block pop-ups by default starting in January with Firefox 72. 

Mozilla

You know when you visit a website and a message immediately pops up asking permission to send you notifications? And you know how you're probably annoyed by it? Well, Mozilla plans to block that behavior by default in Firefox. Google is exploring a crackdown in Chrome, too.

Mozilla studied the situation and found that we really, really don't like those permission pop-ups. "About 99% of notification prompts go unaccepted, with 48% being actively denied by the user," Mozilla said in a Monday blog post. For that reason, Firefox will block that pop-up by default starting in January with Firefox 72.

Don't expect pesky pop-ups to go away entirely, however. Firefox will still show the notification permission pop-ups once you've interacted with the site with a tap, click or keystroke.

Pesky permissions are a case of unintended consequences. Browser makers wanted the web to be more interactive, like a phone app that notifies you when your bank balance is low or your mom just sent you a text. But they didn't want to grant any old website the ability to be so intrusive unless you had granted permission. Hence the pop-ups, which appear on countless sites, including CNET. 

In addition to Firefox's pending change, Google's Chrome team is experimenting with ending notification permission by default as part of a data-gathering exercise. Right now, some people might see the change in test versions of Chrome, but not in the main release, PJ McLachlan, a Chrome product manager, tweeted on Monday.

If you don't like the permission pop-ups, you can already get rid of them by tweaking settings in Firefox, Chrome, Apple's Safari and Microsoft's new Chromium-based Edge.

  • In Chrome and Edge, go to preferences, search for "notifications," click on "site settings," click on "notifications," then switch "ask before sending" to the off position.
  • In Firefox, search for "notifications," click the "settings" button next to it, then check the box for "block new requests asking to allow notifications."
  • In Safari's preferences, click the "websites" tab, click the "notifications" option, then uncheck "allow websites to ask for permission to send notifications."
Even before Firefox 72 cracks down on notification permission requests in 2020, it and other browsers let you block website dialog boxes for sending you notifications.

Firefox and other browsers already let you block website dialog boxes for sending notifications.

Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET