Mozilla’s weekend from hell started at midnight on Friday, when an internal blunder caused all add-ons to be automatically disabled for all Firefox users, across all platforms.
This effectively broke the browser for many who rely on improving or correcting its functionality through the use of extensions, causing an online outcry, and Mozilla scrambling to fix the issue – an effort that continued into Sunday.
The question now is what the company can do beyond rolling out an update to correct the unmitigated disaster?
The question of reassuring users of future credibility and reliability of Firefox is especially important given that the browser, once the leader, has been steadily losing ground to Google’s Chrome. Not to mention that that the direction Mozilla have been taking, affecting user choice and privacy over the past several years, has been testing the patience of even the most loyal userbase.
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One of these decisions has been to introduce mandatory add-on signing since version 48 as a means to verify them. This at the time broke many extensions and shifted control away from Firefox users, and to the company behind it, as users could no longer choose to run extensions regardless. This was also at the heart of the embarrassing event this weekend, that exposed the maker of nothing less than a browser as not competent enough to properly manage security certificates.
One immediate suggestion is reversing this policy in order to make sure such mistakes don’t happen again. This would be done by giving users the choice to allow add-ons to install and run even if security certificates were unavailable. And because Mozilla markets Firefox as a browser that, unlike its main competition, gives users choice, such policy would suit it considerably better than the one currently is place.
In addition, the article urges a high degree of transparency over what happened on Friday: explaining to users why and how such a thing could occur, and what Mozilla plans to do to make sure it never happens again.