A Firefox marketing stunt for 'Mr. Robot' went wrong when people thought they'd actually downloaded a virus

USAA marketing deal with ‘Mr. Robot’ went awry for Firefox when some users thought they had accidentally downloaded a virus or malware.
  • Firefox users are upset after a marketing deal with “Mr. Robot” made some users think they had accidentally infected their computers.
  • Mozilla pushed a mysterious add-on for Firefox called “Looking Glass 1.0.3,” with no description other than “MY REALITY IS JUST DIFFERENT THAN YOURS,” causing concern.
  • Some Firefox fans, and at least one employee, say that it was a breach of trust with Mozilla.

Users of the popular Mozilla Firefox web browser are up in arms after a viral marketing stunt for the hit hacker drama “Mr. Robot” made them think they had somehow accidentally downloaded a real-world virus.

The confusion began earlier this week, when Firefox users noticed that the browser suddenly had an “add-on” extension called “Looking Glass 1.0.3.” It had no description, other than “MY REALITY IS JUST DIFFERENT THAN YOURS” and the names of the people who created it.

“I did not remember installing this addon, I would not knowingly install it. Firefox, Antivirus and OS are all up-to-date. Any explanations welcomme because I can’t find any reference online,” wrote a user on Mozilla’s official Firefox support forums earlier this week.

A little bit of detective work from the Firefox community turned up the truth about “Looking Glass,” confirmed by Mozilla. It’s a so-called “alternate reality game,” letting fans of “Mr. Robot” follow a bunch of show-related clues and turn up more information about this season’s story. Mozilla also confirmed that it was an official part of Firefox, and that you had to explicitly find it and turn it on before it does anything, as part of the game.

This explanation did not satisfy Firefox fans, who wondered why and how Mozilla was allowed to install add-ons to Firefox without the permission of users – especially an add-on that sounds so vague and sinister. Even Mozilla developer Steve Klabnik took to Twitter to complain about how his employer handled the deal: “This is totally indistinguishable from malware,” he wrote.

Looking glass firefox robotScreenshot/Matt WeinbergerThe current version of the ‘Looking Glass’ add-on. A previous version didn’t include the description, making people wonder if they had actually downloaded some kind of virus.

“You need use [sic] a meaningful description – not some random quote that you think might be cute. It’s not amusing to the millions of users who are thinking WTF,” wrote a Firefox fan on the support forum in a highly-rated post.

On Thursday, the add-on was updated to “Looking Glass 1.0.4,” and now spells out the marketing deal, calling it ” a collaboration between Mozilla and the makers of Mr. Robot to provide a shared world experience.”

Still, it seems like the damage is done. Much of Firefox’s popularity is due to the perception that Mozilla is more focused on user choice and privacy than Google and its leading Google Chrome browser.

“I’m glad that Mozilla is so serious about the principles of security and privacy and knowing what information I’m sharing online, that they installed telemetry and didn’t tell me about it,” joked a user on Reddit.

“We need our users to trust that we are honestly advocating in their best interests. This is completely counter to that,”wrote Klabnik on Twitter.

Mozilla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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