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Mozilla backs off its security, privacy services to focus on Firefox

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Mozilla is best known for its Firefox browser, but compared to rivals, it’s not nearly as popular. As part of the company’s efforts to turn its attention back to Firefox, several of its standalone products are taking a hit—including a couple of stellar ones that provided extra anonymity online.

As reported by TechCrunch on Tuesday, Mozilla is “scaling back” its attention to Mozilla VPN, Relay, and Online Footprint Scrubber, following the layoff of approximately 60 employees. It also will pull back on its mozilla.social Mastodon instance, which will be run by a smaller team, and close down Hubs, its 3D virtual world. These changes come shortly after the appointment of a new interim CEO.

In an internal memo, Mozilla outlined its new effort to focus on Firefox once more—specifically to further infuse AI into the browser, saying its Pocket, Content, and affiliated AI/ML teams will be working on “finding great content.” Currently, Firefox recommends articles from Pocket in new tabs when left on default settings, many of which are long-form features covering general interests like cooking, health, historical figures, and science.

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Currently, no changes are being announced for Mozilla VPN and Relay, according to a representative from Mozilla. Mozilla Monitor Plus, which scrubs your information from data broker sites, is a separate offering from Online Footprint Scrubber and also not affected by the layoffs.

If you’re a Mozilla VPN, Relay, or Monitor Plus subscriber and are nervous about the news, there is a potential silver lining. Both the VPN and Monitor Plus are powered by partner companies (Mullvad for the VPN, and OneRep for Monitor Plus), so the services won’t go completely under if Mozilla shutters its branded versions of them. Meanwhile, Relay users can turn to DuckDuckGo’s unlimited email masks to hide their email address while online. It works similar to Relay, including integration with password managers like Bitwarden—except it’s entirely free.

Alaina Yee is PCWorld’s resident bargain hunter—when she’s not covering software, PC building, and more, she’s scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.

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