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Mozilla's new internet-infused brand throws browsers for a loop

What happens when you blend programming instructions into a brand name like Moz://a? For browsers, anything from nothing to confusion.

Mozilla's brand incorporates web-address styling.


Mozilla's new "Moz://a" branding builds on the :// characters in every website address. Yet some browsers don't know exactly what to make of the name.

When you type "Moz://a" into the address bar, Google's Chrome, Opera Software's Opera, Microsoft's Edge and Mozilla's Firefox treat it as a search term rather than a web address. Search engines from Google, Microsoft and Yahoo haven't yet grasped that Mozilla should be the top search result, though, so search-engine optimization site gets most of the attention.

Apple's Safari and Brave Software's Brave, though, take the :// characters a bit more seriously. Brave ignores the address, leaving you at the website that was loaded earlier. Safari rejects it outright, showing just an error message: "Safari can't open 'moz://a' because MacOS doesn't recognize internet addresses starting with 'moz:'."

The results are an amusing illustration of what can happen when the worlds of programming and ordinary language collide. For another example, check the XKCD comic on a mom who included database control codes in her son's name.

Mozilla chose the new brand with the URL coding to reflect its internet identity.

"Our logo with its nod to URL language reinforces that the internet is at the heart of Mozilla," said Mozilla creative team leader Tim Murray in a blog post Wednesday. "We are committed to the original intent of the link as the beginning of an unfiltered, unmediated experience into the rich content of the internet."

Apple's Safari browser interprets the "moz://a" name as an internet standard it doesn't understand.

Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Website addresses begin with "http://" to denote the use of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, the standard that governs how browsers fetch websites from web servers, or "https://" for the increasingly common secure variation. But some browsers have been able to handle other standards, like ftp:// for the old File Transfer Protocol. Evidently Safari treats the "moz://" as an attempt to use some standard it's never heard about.

It's possible Mozilla will take the name seriously, though. Some programmers suggested a new feature that would give special treatment to "moz://a" in Firefox's address bar. It would send you to the "about:mozilla" page or the Mozilla manifesto.

Of course, changes to address bar behavior aren't to be taken lightly. Firefox programmer Ben Kelly fretted about performance consequences.

And Firefox architect Richard Newman has other concerns.

"If we're going to do anything, please let it be the simplest thing and not a giant waste of time and risk," Newman said. "Don't we all have more important things to do?"