From next year on, Firefox will hide push notification requests from websites by default. Websites may use the Notifications API to displays notifications to users of the web browser, even if the site in question has been closed in the meantime.
Designed to give sites and progressive web applications an option to inform users about updates, it soon started to be abused by numerous sites. Mozilla ran an experiment in 2019 to determine how users of the Firefox web browser interacted with these notification requests.
One of the main issue with notification prompts is that many sites display them the moment a user visits it, another that the prompt requires action on part of the user. Users who never visited a site before cannot possibly know whether they would like to receive notifications from a site they know little about.
According to the study — as reported by ZDNet — 97% of users who participated in the study dismissed notifications immediately or went a step further and decided to block the site from showing notifications at all.
Firefox users may block all notification prompts already in the browser. Mozilla implemented an option in Firefox 59 to block all notification prompts in the browser. Users need to load about:preferences#privacy in the browser’s address bar, scroll down to the permissions section, click on settings next to notifications, and check the “Block new requests asking to allow notifications”.
From Firefox 70 onward, the prompt’s “not now” option will be changed to “never to block the prompt on the site forever.
Starting in Firefox 72, Firefox will no longer show notification prompts when websites want to use the notifications API unless the user has interacted with the site prior to the request. Interaction in this case means that the user tapped, clicked, or pressed a key.
Firefox adds a new icon to the browser’s address bar when a site requests notification access but the prompt that asks users to allow or deny the request won’t be shown anymore.
Firefox users may click on the notification icon in the address bar to display the prompt and allow or deny notifications for that particular site.
The change landed in the most recent version of Firefox Nightly already. Mozilla is still working on the implementation and users may experience bugs in the development versions of Firefox as a consequence.
As is the case with most new technologies and features implemented in browsers, they may be used for good and bad. Notifications has been abused in particular, thanks to the easy implementation, and it was about time that browser makers started to react to this.
While it has been possible to block all notifications in Firefox for a long time, it is probably not something that most users of the browser have been aware of.
The suppression of notification prompts will reduce annoying notification prompts significantly without removing the functionality entirely.