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My privacy is not being respected with Pocket recommendations

Posted

Last night my wife was concerned about a warning she got from friends regarding this momo challenge meme circulating that potentially targets children. We have a 6 year old, so I wanted to research it. I was extremely careful to use the private browsing feature on my _home_ desktop computer. I discovered it's basically a hoax, and was glad to learn I shouldn't be overly concerned about it.

However, today at work I was running a meeting using my _laptop_ work computer with many of my coworkers and sharing my screen on a TV monitor. I open up a new tab during the meeting, and there in the pocket recommendations is the horrible disturbing image of momo. I have _never_ done any searches about this using my work computer.

I am extremely disappointed that my private searches on one machine are obviously being used to provide recommendations via pocket on a complete different computer that I use for work. I think showing recommendations on a new tab is a bad idea altogether. I wish it would just show my homepage. I know there's workarounds to this - but it's the default behavior and I didn't anticipate this kind of problem whatsoever.

I was very flustered by this during the meeting, and even now as I'm writing this. VERY VERY disappointing and makes me not want to use firefox anymore!

-David Brooks

Last night my wife was concerned about a warning she got from friends regarding this momo challenge meme circulating that potentially targets children. We have a 6 year old, so I wanted to research it. I was extremely careful to use the private browsing feature on my _home_ desktop computer. I discovered it's basically a hoax, and was glad to learn I shouldn't be overly concerned about it. However, today at work I was running a meeting using my _laptop_ work computer with many of my coworkers and sharing my screen on a TV monitor. I open up a new tab during the meeting, and there in the pocket recommendations is the horrible disturbing image of momo. I have _never_ done any searches about this using my work computer. I am extremely disappointed that my private searches on one machine are obviously being used to provide recommendations via pocket on a complete different computer that I use for work. I think showing recommendations on a new tab is a bad idea altogether. I wish it would just show my homepage. I know there's workarounds to this - but it's the default behavior and I didn't anticipate this kind of problem whatsoever. I was very flustered by this during the meeting, and even now as I'm writing this. VERY VERY disappointing and makes me not want to use firefox anymore! -David Brooks
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WestEnd
  • Top 10 Contributor
60 solutions 5125 answers

firefox doesn't give nor illicit adware or popups. As said you already identify the first line where the problem was coming from. And it wasn't from firefox or mozilla. So this is a matter that you need to take to your IT department to fix what got on your laptop and then take your desktop to a computer shop to fix that problem. As such if your using sync with your home and work laptop then it would be concur it would show up on your laptop as well.

firefox doesn't give nor illicit adware or popups. As said you already identify the first line where the problem was coming from. And it wasn't from firefox or mozilla. So this is a matter that you need to take to your IT department to fix what got on your laptop and then take your desktop to a computer shop to fix that problem. As such if your using sync with your home and work laptop then it would be concur it would show up on your laptop as well.
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jscher2000
  • Top 10 Contributor
8315 solutions 68040 answers

Helpful Reply

Hi David, that does sound troubling. You may want to blank out the new tab page when you are sharing your screen in Firefox. That is one of the options on the Options page, Home panel. See also: Hide or display content in New Tab. To show your home page in place of the new tab page, if it is an http/https address (doesn't work with file:// addresses) you can use an add-on such as: New Tab Homepage.

Regarding Pocket Recommendations

For U.S.-based users, the three Pocket recommendations on the new tab page are drawn from a list of 20 popular stories. When Firefox downloads the list, each story comes with a lengthy list of other sites Pocket has associated with the site that hosts the particular story. Your Firefox compares the lists with your locally stored history to prioritize which 3 of the 20 stories are shown on the new tab page.

For example, currently, the first story in my feed comes with this data:

"domain":"theatlantic.com",
"title":"Why I Hope to Die at 75",
"domain_affinities":{
  'knowridge.com': '1.0000',
  'dailymedic.info': '0.9998',
  'pharmaceutical-journal.com': '0.9997',
  'startingstrength.com': '0.9992',
  'selfhacked.com': '0.9986',
  'physiqonomics.com': '0.9984',
  'stronglifts.com': '0.9958',
  'examine.com': '0.9948',
  'dailyplug.com': '0.9939',
  'stedavies.com': '0.9937',
  'bengreenfieldfitness.com': '0.9916',
  'muscleandfitness.com': '0.9912',
  'muscleandstrength.com': '0.9912',
  't-nation.com': '0.9896',
  'precisionnutrition.com': '0.9873',
  'drugs.com': '0.9865',
  'muscleforlife.com': '0.9857',
  'thehealthawareness.com': '0.9834',
  'medicalnewstoday.com': '0.9831',
  'womansworld.com': '0.9821',
  'eatingacademy.com': '0.9813',
  'mayoclinic.org': '0.9810',
  'hopkinsmedicine.org': '0.9806',
  'clevelandclinic.org': '0.9796',
  'thehealthcareblog.com': '0.9790',
  'chriskresser.com': '0.9782',
  'jamanetwork.com': '0.9782',
  'top10homeremedies.com': '0.9773',
  'greenmedinfo.com': '0.9771',
  'intensivedietarymanagement.com': '0.9770',
  'healthline.com': '0.9737',
  'onnit.com': '0.9730',
  'annals.org': '0.9729',
  'active.com': '0.9722',
  'sciencebasedmedicine.org': '0.9709',
  'bodybuilding.com': '0.9707',
  'medicinenet.com': '0.9705',
  'helpguide.org': '0.9701',
  'fda.gov': '0.9692',
  'competitor.com': '0.9668',
  'webmd.com': '0.9654',
  'lww.com': '0.9653',
  'proteinpower.com': '0.9643',
  'robbwolf.com': '0.9641',
  'draxe.com': '0.9632',
  'bulletproof.com': '0.9628',
  'runtastic.com': '0.9605',
  'mercola.com': '0.9599',
  'drweil.com': '0.9588',
  'medicaldaily.com': '0.9582',
  'studyfinds.org': '0.9576',
  'endpts.com': '0.9570',
  'nutritionfacts.org': '0.9555',
  'menshealth.co.uk': '0.9553',
  'stack.com': '0.9546',
  'livestrong.com': '0.9541',
  'mensfitness.com': '0.9540',
  'kajsotala.fi': '0.9537',
  'drhyman.com': '0.9530',
  'women2.com': '0.9523',
  'authoritynutrition.com': '0.9517',
  'curejoy.com': '0.9513',
  'womenshealthmag.com': '0.9510',
  'news-medical.net': '0.9499',
  'nutrition.org': '0.9498',
  'medicalxpress.com': '0.9482',
  'ewg.org': '0.9470',
  'fitnessmagazine.com': '0.9462',
  'menshealth.com': '0.9458',
  'nerdfitness.com': '0.9452',
  'medcitynews.com': '0.9450',
  'health.com': '0.9445',
  'breakingmuscle.com': '0.9426',
  'shape.com': '0.9420',
  'vegan.com': '0.9419',
  'prevention.com': '0.9415',
  'yogajournal.com': '0.9409',
  'everydayhealth.com': '0.9406',
  'runnersworld.com': '0.9401',
  'kevinmd.com': '0.9393',
  'neurosciencenews.com': '0.9387',
  'who.int': '0.9382',
  'ucsf.edu': '0.9371',
  'medpagetoday.com': '0.9352',
  'mosaicscience.com': '0.9341',
  'nejm.org': '0.9323',
  'nhs.uk': '0.9317',
  'eatthis.com': '0.9273',
  'naturallivingideas.com': '0.9265',
  'bmj.com': '0.9264',
  'themighty.com': '0.9260',
  'fitbit.com': '0.9253',
  'marksdailyapple.com': '0.9247',
  'cdc.gov': '0.9245',
  'healthy-holistic-living.com': '0.9232',
  'theheartysoul.com': '0.9226',
  'byrdie.co.uk': '0.9208',
  'intothegloss.com': '0.9199',
  'realfarmacy.com': '0.9140',
  'biomedcentral.com': '0.9132',
  'nih.gov': '0.9125',
  'netdoctor.co.uk': '0.9125',
  'byrdie.com': '0.9118',
  'dailyburn.com': '0.8980',
  'sustainabledish.com': '0.8962',
  'acsh.org': '0.8945',
  'verywell.com': '0.8935',
  'myfitnesspal.com': '0.8853',
  'wellnessmama.com': '0.8823',
  'housebeautiful.co.uk': '0.8816',
  'experiencelife.com': '0.8807',
  'statnews.com': '0.8786',
  'mindful.org': '0.8776',
  'stephanguyenet.com': '0.8762',
  'rodalewellness.com': '0.8758',
  'self.com': '0.8732',
  'theopennotebook.com': '0.8709',
  'bicycling.com': '0.8480',
  'askmen.com': '0.8435',
  'wakeup-world.com': '0.8418',
  'mindbodygreen.com': '0.8410',
  'naturalnews.com': '0.8366',
  'spring.org.uk': '0.8360',
  'dietdoctor.com': '0.8316',
  'wellandgood.com': '0.8313',
  'sciencedaily.com': '0.8229',
  'powerofpositivity.com': '0.8154',
  'greatist.com': '0.8002',
  'upliftconnect.com': '0.7975',
  'rd.com': '0.7928',
  'psychcentral.com': '0.7840',
  'headspace.com': '0.7803',
  'lionsroar.com': '0.7743',
  'ruled.me': '0.7738',
  'collective-evolution.com': '0.7608',
  'ketodietapp.com': '0.7397',
  'additudemag.com': '0.7362',
  'psychologytoday.com': '0.7293',
  'elephantjournal.com': '0.7292',
  'eurekalert.org': '0.7203',
  'rodalesorganiclife.com': '0.7141',
  'futurity.org': '0.7140',
  'popsugar.com': '0.7038',
  'bps.org.uk': '0.6940',
  'brightside.me': '0.6893',
  'plos.org': '0.6695',
  'aarp.org': '0.6670',
  'ideapod.com': '0.6645',
  'goop.com': '0.6381',
  'bigthink.com': '0.6256',
  'mensjournal.com': '0.6255',
  'metro.co.uk': '0.6195',
  'wareable.com': '0.6038',
  'popsci.com': '0.5852',
  'telegraph.co.uk': '0.5784',
  'elitedaily.com': '0.5782',
  'fatherly.com': '0.5727',
  'theeverygirl.com': '0.5662',
  'theladders.com': '0.5595',
  'melmagazine.com': '0.5585',
  'wikihow.com': '0.5559',
  'consumerreports.org': '0.5530',
  'theconversation.com': '0.5453',
  'sciencealert.com': '0.5440',
  'cosmopolitan.com': '0.5406',
  'desiringgod.org': '0.5329',
  'scientificamerican.com': '0.5307',
  'today.com': '0.5302',
  'artofmanliness.com': '0.5212',
  'thesweethome.com': '0.5088',
  'bakadesuyo.com': '0.5075',
  'sciencenews.org': '0.5065',
  'newscientist.com': '0.4991',
  'pickthebrain.com': '0.4922',
  'discovermagazine.com': '0.4915',
  'newatlas.com': '0.4880',
  'forksoverknives.com': '0.4868',
  'iflscience.com': '0.4857',
  'tinybuddha.com': '0.4831',
  'zenhabits.net': '0.4791',
  'qz.com': '0.4662',
  'cheatsheet.com': '0.4635',
  'iwillteachyoutoberich.com': '0.4628',
  'time.com': '0.4519',
  'npr.org': '0.4503',
  'refinery29.com': '0.4498',
  'ted.com': '0.4497',
  'wired.co.uk': '0.4445',
  'coach.me': '0.4216',
  'livescience.com': '0.4073',
  'bustle.com': '0.3934',
  'outsideonline.com': '0.3920',
  'thecut.com': '0.3897',
  'slatestarcodex.com': '0.3864',
  'weforum.org': '0.3862',
  'brainpickings.org': '0.3845',
  'raptitude.com': '0.3843',
  'realsimple.com': '0.3808',
  'onegreenplanet.org': '0.3804',
  'nautil.us': '0.3776',
  'dailymail.co.uk': '0.3707',
  'cookinglight.com': '0.3698',
  'nature.com': '0.3686',
  '1843magazine.com': '0.3581',
  'highexistence.com': '0.3526',
  'markmanson.net': '0.3453',
  'marcandangel.com': '0.3381',
  'lifehack.org': '0.3288',
  'msn.com': '0.3280',
  'bestlifeonline.com': '0.3244',
  'propublica.org': '0.3234',
  'theestablishment.co': '0.3116',
  'thoughtcatalog.com': '0.3016',
  'dariusforoux.com': '0.2946',
  'bbcgoodfood.com': '0.2930',
  'racked.com': '0.2921',
  'success.com': '0.2768',
  'eater.com': '0.2654'
}

Firefox uses this data to figure out which of the 20 stories might be of the most interest to me. For whatever reasons, this one ended up in the first position for me.

Pages I visited in a private window won't be in my history (unless I also visited them in a regular window), so they won't influence which of the Pocket stories are selected to appear on the new tab page. Similarly, your private window browsing shouldn't affect the stories your Firefox selects from the Pocket recommendations list.

Hi David, that does sound troubling. You may want to blank out the new tab page when you are sharing your screen in Firefox. That is one of the options on the Options page, Home panel. See also: [[Hide or display content in New Tab]]. To show your home page in place of the new tab page, if it is an http/https address (doesn't work with file:// addresses) you can use an add-on such as: [https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/addon/new-tab-homepage/ New Tab Homepage]. '''''Regarding Pocket Recommendations''''' For U.S.-based users, the three Pocket recommendations on the new tab page are drawn from a list of 20 popular stories. When Firefox downloads the list, each story comes with a lengthy list of ''other'' sites Pocket has associated with the site that hosts the particular story. Your Firefox compares the lists with your locally stored history to prioritize which 3 of the 20 stories are shown on the new tab page. For example, currently, the first story in my feed comes with this data: <pre>"domain":"theatlantic.com", "title":"Why I Hope to Die at 75", "domain_affinities":{ 'knowridge.com': '1.0000', 'dailymedic.info': '0.9998', 'pharmaceutical-journal.com': '0.9997', 'startingstrength.com': '0.9992', 'selfhacked.com': '0.9986', 'physiqonomics.com': '0.9984', 'stronglifts.com': '0.9958', 'examine.com': '0.9948', 'dailyplug.com': '0.9939', 'stedavies.com': '0.9937', 'bengreenfieldfitness.com': '0.9916', 'muscleandfitness.com': '0.9912', 'muscleandstrength.com': '0.9912', 't-nation.com': '0.9896', 'precisionnutrition.com': '0.9873', 'drugs.com': '0.9865', 'muscleforlife.com': '0.9857', 'thehealthawareness.com': '0.9834', 'medicalnewstoday.com': '0.9831', 'womansworld.com': '0.9821', 'eatingacademy.com': '0.9813', 'mayoclinic.org': '0.9810', 'hopkinsmedicine.org': '0.9806', 'clevelandclinic.org': '0.9796', 'thehealthcareblog.com': '0.9790', 'chriskresser.com': '0.9782', 'jamanetwork.com': '0.9782', 'top10homeremedies.com': '0.9773', 'greenmedinfo.com': '0.9771', 'intensivedietarymanagement.com': '0.9770', 'healthline.com': '0.9737', 'onnit.com': '0.9730', 'annals.org': '0.9729', 'active.com': '0.9722', 'sciencebasedmedicine.org': '0.9709', 'bodybuilding.com': '0.9707', 'medicinenet.com': '0.9705', 'helpguide.org': '0.9701', 'fda.gov': '0.9692', 'competitor.com': '0.9668', 'webmd.com': '0.9654', 'lww.com': '0.9653', 'proteinpower.com': '0.9643', 'robbwolf.com': '0.9641', 'draxe.com': '0.9632', 'bulletproof.com': '0.9628', 'runtastic.com': '0.9605', 'mercola.com': '0.9599', 'drweil.com': '0.9588', 'medicaldaily.com': '0.9582', 'studyfinds.org': '0.9576', 'endpts.com': '0.9570', 'nutritionfacts.org': '0.9555', 'menshealth.co.uk': '0.9553', 'stack.com': '0.9546', 'livestrong.com': '0.9541', 'mensfitness.com': '0.9540', 'kajsotala.fi': '0.9537', 'drhyman.com': '0.9530', 'women2.com': '0.9523', 'authoritynutrition.com': '0.9517', 'curejoy.com': '0.9513', 'womenshealthmag.com': '0.9510', 'news-medical.net': '0.9499', 'nutrition.org': '0.9498', 'medicalxpress.com': '0.9482', 'ewg.org': '0.9470', 'fitnessmagazine.com': '0.9462', 'menshealth.com': '0.9458', 'nerdfitness.com': '0.9452', 'medcitynews.com': '0.9450', 'health.com': '0.9445', 'breakingmuscle.com': '0.9426', 'shape.com': '0.9420', 'vegan.com': '0.9419', 'prevention.com': '0.9415', 'yogajournal.com': '0.9409', 'everydayhealth.com': '0.9406', 'runnersworld.com': '0.9401', 'kevinmd.com': '0.9393', 'neurosciencenews.com': '0.9387', 'who.int': '0.9382', 'ucsf.edu': '0.9371', 'medpagetoday.com': '0.9352', 'mosaicscience.com': '0.9341', 'nejm.org': '0.9323', 'nhs.uk': '0.9317', 'eatthis.com': '0.9273', 'naturallivingideas.com': '0.9265', 'bmj.com': '0.9264', 'themighty.com': '0.9260', 'fitbit.com': '0.9253', 'marksdailyapple.com': '0.9247', 'cdc.gov': '0.9245', 'healthy-holistic-living.com': '0.9232', 'theheartysoul.com': '0.9226', 'byrdie.co.uk': '0.9208', 'intothegloss.com': '0.9199', 'realfarmacy.com': '0.9140', 'biomedcentral.com': '0.9132', 'nih.gov': '0.9125', 'netdoctor.co.uk': '0.9125', 'byrdie.com': '0.9118', 'dailyburn.com': '0.8980', 'sustainabledish.com': '0.8962', 'acsh.org': '0.8945', 'verywell.com': '0.8935', 'myfitnesspal.com': '0.8853', 'wellnessmama.com': '0.8823', 'housebeautiful.co.uk': '0.8816', 'experiencelife.com': '0.8807', 'statnews.com': '0.8786', 'mindful.org': '0.8776', 'stephanguyenet.com': '0.8762', 'rodalewellness.com': '0.8758', 'self.com': '0.8732', 'theopennotebook.com': '0.8709', 'bicycling.com': '0.8480', 'askmen.com': '0.8435', 'wakeup-world.com': '0.8418', 'mindbodygreen.com': '0.8410', 'naturalnews.com': '0.8366', 'spring.org.uk': '0.8360', 'dietdoctor.com': '0.8316', 'wellandgood.com': '0.8313', 'sciencedaily.com': '0.8229', 'powerofpositivity.com': '0.8154', 'greatist.com': '0.8002', 'upliftconnect.com': '0.7975', 'rd.com': '0.7928', 'psychcentral.com': '0.7840', 'headspace.com': '0.7803', 'lionsroar.com': '0.7743', 'ruled.me': '0.7738', 'collective-evolution.com': '0.7608', 'ketodietapp.com': '0.7397', 'additudemag.com': '0.7362', 'psychologytoday.com': '0.7293', 'elephantjournal.com': '0.7292', 'eurekalert.org': '0.7203', 'rodalesorganiclife.com': '0.7141', 'futurity.org': '0.7140', 'popsugar.com': '0.7038', 'bps.org.uk': '0.6940', 'brightside.me': '0.6893', 'plos.org': '0.6695', 'aarp.org': '0.6670', 'ideapod.com': '0.6645', 'goop.com': '0.6381', 'bigthink.com': '0.6256', 'mensjournal.com': '0.6255', 'metro.co.uk': '0.6195', 'wareable.com': '0.6038', 'popsci.com': '0.5852', 'telegraph.co.uk': '0.5784', 'elitedaily.com': '0.5782', 'fatherly.com': '0.5727', 'theeverygirl.com': '0.5662', 'theladders.com': '0.5595', 'melmagazine.com': '0.5585', 'wikihow.com': '0.5559', 'consumerreports.org': '0.5530', 'theconversation.com': '0.5453', 'sciencealert.com': '0.5440', 'cosmopolitan.com': '0.5406', 'desiringgod.org': '0.5329', 'scientificamerican.com': '0.5307', 'today.com': '0.5302', 'artofmanliness.com': '0.5212', 'thesweethome.com': '0.5088', 'bakadesuyo.com': '0.5075', 'sciencenews.org': '0.5065', 'newscientist.com': '0.4991', 'pickthebrain.com': '0.4922', 'discovermagazine.com': '0.4915', 'newatlas.com': '0.4880', 'forksoverknives.com': '0.4868', 'iflscience.com': '0.4857', 'tinybuddha.com': '0.4831', 'zenhabits.net': '0.4791', 'qz.com': '0.4662', 'cheatsheet.com': '0.4635', 'iwillteachyoutoberich.com': '0.4628', 'time.com': '0.4519', 'npr.org': '0.4503', 'refinery29.com': '0.4498', 'ted.com': '0.4497', 'wired.co.uk': '0.4445', 'coach.me': '0.4216', 'livescience.com': '0.4073', 'bustle.com': '0.3934', 'outsideonline.com': '0.3920', 'thecut.com': '0.3897', 'slatestarcodex.com': '0.3864', 'weforum.org': '0.3862', 'brainpickings.org': '0.3845', 'raptitude.com': '0.3843', 'realsimple.com': '0.3808', 'onegreenplanet.org': '0.3804', 'nautil.us': '0.3776', 'dailymail.co.uk': '0.3707', 'cookinglight.com': '0.3698', 'nature.com': '0.3686', '1843magazine.com': '0.3581', 'highexistence.com': '0.3526', 'markmanson.net': '0.3453', 'marcandangel.com': '0.3381', 'lifehack.org': '0.3288', 'msn.com': '0.3280', 'bestlifeonline.com': '0.3244', 'propublica.org': '0.3234', 'theestablishment.co': '0.3116', 'thoughtcatalog.com': '0.3016', 'dariusforoux.com': '0.2946', 'bbcgoodfood.com': '0.2930', 'racked.com': '0.2921', 'success.com': '0.2768', 'eater.com': '0.2654' } </pre> Firefox uses this data to figure out which of the 20 stories might be of the most interest to me. For whatever reasons, this one ended up in the first position for me. Pages I visited in a private window won't be in my history (unless I also visited them in a regular window), so they won't influence which of the Pocket stories are selected to appear on the new tab page. Similarly, your private window browsing shouldn't affect the stories your Firefox selects from the Pocket recommendations list.
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Quote

Question owner

WestEnd, this isn't a malware problem - sorry for the misunderstanding.

jscher2000, thanks for the reply. After discussing this to a certain degree with other coworkers, I agree that this might have just been a coincidence. Unfortunately this topic is trending very strongly right now.

I have now configured my "new tab" page to display only the search bar and nothing else, which will certainly mitigate any similar issues in the future.

WestEnd, this isn't a malware problem - sorry for the misunderstanding. jscher2000, thanks for the reply. After discussing this to a certain degree with other coworkers, I agree that this might have just been a coincidence. Unfortunately this topic is trending very strongly right now. I have now configured my "new tab" page to display only the search bar and nothing else, which will certainly mitigate any similar issues in the future.
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McCoy
  • Top 10 Contributor
396 solutions 3469 answers

Hello David,

You could consider hiding Pocket on the new tab page (or maybe even disable it) instead of displaying only the search bar :

https://help.getpocket.com/article/1147-hiding-pocket-in-your-firefox-new-tab

Hello David, You could consider hiding Pocket on the new tab page (or maybe even disable it) instead of displaying only the search bar : https://help.getpocket.com/article/1147-hiding-pocket-in-your-firefox-new-tab
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