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Firefox is making a major change to its lineup of search engines: here’s why

Mozilla removed several Russian search engines from Firefox for allegedly promoting state-sponsored propaganda on independent media.

Mozilla removed several Russian search engines from firefox, following reports that they promote state-sponsored propaganda on independent media. The attack on Ukraine resulted in substantial economic sanctions against Russia by the United States, the European Union and their allies. It has also caused tech companies like Google, Meta, Twitter, Apple and others to reconsider their business plans in Russia.

Many social media companies already limit or prevent Russian state media and other Russian government agencies from spreading propaganda or monetizing their content. For example, platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have taken decisive action to stop fake news and misinformation on their respective platforms and have been praised for their proactive stance during the conflict.

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Now, Firefox has removed several Russian search engine providers for allegedly favoring state-sponsored propaganda over independent content about the war in Ukraine. Mozilla announced its decision via the release notes for Firefox 98.0.1, which noted that “Yandex and Mail.ru have been removed as optional search providers” in the latest version of the browser. Although the release notes did not provide any official reason for the decision, a Mozilla spokesperson later confirmed beeping computer that Russian propaganda was the reason for the change. According to an official statement, the decision to remove search options was made due to “credible reports of search results displaying a prevalence of government-sponsored content, which is contrary to Mozilla’s principles.”


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Alongside Yandex and Mail.ru, the Russian social network Odnoklassniki (ok.ru) has also been taken down, apparently because it is a subsidiary of Mail.ru. According to the report, Yandex, Mail.ru and ok.ru are among the most popular websites in Russia, with more than 100 million users combined per month. The latest decision, which applies to users worldwide, will primarily affect people in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkey, where Yandex is the default search option on firefox. Meanwhile, as long as the decision remains in place, Mozilla says it is directing users to Google for their search results.

Russian state media is toeing Vladimir Putin’s line and portraying the war in Ukraine as a “special military operation” instead of reporting it for what it really is. Hundreds of people, including many women and children, are believed to have already died from Russian shelling in various Ukrainian cities. Conflict does not only take a heavy human toll. It also negatively affects global businesses. There are fears that the war will prolong the chip shortage as Russia and Ukraine export crucial materials used to produce microchips. The war is also spooking global oil markets and driving crude prices to stratospheric levels.


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Source: MozillaComment, beeping computer

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