Mozilla is exploring ways to reduce notification permission prompt spam in Firefox

3 min read

Yesterday, Mozilla announced that it is launching two experiments to understand how they can reduce “permission prompt spam” in Firefox. Last year, it did add a feature in Firefox that allows users to completely block the permission prompts. It is now planning to come up with a new option for those who do not want to take such a drastic step.

Permission prompts have become quite common nowadays. It allows websites to get user permission for accessing powerful features when needed. But, often it gets annoying for users when they are shown unsolicited, out-of-context permission prompts, for instance, the ones that ask for permission to send push notifications.

Mozilla’s telemetry data shows that notifications prompt is the most frequently shown permission prompt, with about 18 million prompts shown on Firefox Beta from Dec 25 2018 to Jan 24 2019.

Out of these 18 million prompts, not even 3 percent were accepted by users. And 19 percent of the prompts caused users to immediately leave the site. Such a low acceptance of this feature led to the following two conclusions:

  • One, that there are some websites that show the notification prompt without the intent of using it to enhance the user experience, or fail to express their intent in the prompt clearly.
  • Second, there are websites that show the notification permission prompt for too early, without giving users enough time to decide if they want them.

To get a better idea on how and when websites should ask for notification permissions, Mozilla is launching these two experiments:

Experiment 1: Requiring user interaction for notification permission prompts in Nightly 68

The first experiment involves requiring a user gesture, like a click or a keystroke to trigger the code that requests permission. From April 1st to 29th, requests for permission to use Notifications will be temporarily denied unless they follow a click or keystroke.

In the first two weeks, no user-facing notifications will be shown when the restriction is applied to a website. In the last two weeks of this experiment, an animated icon will be shown in the address bar when this restriction is applied. If the user clicks on the icon, they will be presented with the prompt at that time.

Experiment 2: Collecting interaction and environment data around permission prompts from release users

Mozilla believes that requiring user interaction is not the perfect solution to the permission spam problem. To come up with a better approach, it wants to get more insights about how Firefox users interact with permission prompts.

So, they are planning to launch an experiment in Firefox Release 67 to gather information about the circumstances in which users interact with permission prompts. They will collect information about:

  • Have they been on the site for a long time?
  • Have they rejected a lot of permission prompts before?

With this experiment, it aims to collect a set of possible heuristics for future permission prompt restrictions.

To know more in detail, visit Mozilla’s official blog.

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