Mozilla has removed Russian search engine providers from its Firefox browser, following allegations that they favor state-sponsored content over other media.
The news was revealed in Firefox version 98.0.1. where the patch details note “Yandex and Mail.ru have been removed as optional search providers in Firefox’s drop-down search menu.”
In addition to being removed as optional search providers, all customizations, add-ons, bookmarks, and anything else related to related search engines have been removed. Those affected will have their settings reset to default, meaning their search engine is now likely Google.
Confirmation of changes made to BeepComputerMozilla said it fears these search engines will favor Russian propaganda over objective content.
“After careful consideration, we are suspending the use of Yandex Search in Firefox due to credible reports of search results displaying a prevalence of state-sponsored content, which is contrary to Mozilla’s principles,” explained a carrier. word of Mozilla.
“This means that at this time, Yandex Search will not be the default search experience (or a default search option) for users in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Turkey. In the meantime, we are directing the people to google.com.”
Mozilla’s announcement says nothing about the invasion of Ukraine, though media outlets are quick to assume the change was made due to Russian state-sponsored media spreading false information about the war.
Yandex, Mail.ru and OK.ru are the three most popular websites in the country, according to BleepingComputer. Together they have over 100 million unique users per month. In 2014, Mozilla made Yandex the default search engine for all Russian users, expanding to Turkey the following year.
There is a big difference between reporting on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict in Russia and in Western countries. While the West reports it as a Russian invasion of a sovereign nation, the Russian media mainly follows the government’s narrative of a “special military operation” with the aim of “denazification and demilitarization” of Ukraine. Most, if not all, Western media cannot be consumed in Russia, and vice versa.
To circumvent strict national restrictions, Russians are increasingly turning to virtual private networks (VPNs).