Charles was a little puzzled by a screen that popped up when he opened Firefox. He writes: “When I open Firefox lately, I see this page asking me to donate money. It even tried to get me to sign up for a monthly subscription. I always thought that Firefox was free. I did not click on it. I ran Malware Bytes and my Norton anti-virus and also followed your instructions on checking for programs that I didn’t install or any type of add-ons in my Firefox browser.  My anti-virus and Malware Bytes didn’t find anything. I saw no recently installed programs and there were no add-ons that I had not previously authorized and nothing that was recently installed. I even tried uninstalling and re-installing Firefox, but it is still there. Where is this coming from? Is Firefox really charging a monthly subscription now? I like it, but I don’t think it is worth a monthly subscription fee when other browsers are available for free or included with your computer.”

Good for you for being so vigilant. I’ll be that the screen you saw was the one below:

mozilla-needs-money

The good news is that you don’t have a virus or some type of adware. This is a legitimate appeal for funds from Mozilla, the developer behind Firefox. Unlike Microsoft ( the developers of Internet Explorer and Edge) or Google (the developers of Chrome), Firefox was developed by the Mozilla Foundation, a non-profit.

firefoxmenu

The Mozilla Foundation is regarded by some as sort of the conscience of the Internet, fighting for privacy, encouraging open source development and encouraging young people to learn code. They have a for-profit branch, Mozilla Corp, which distributes Firefox and made a ton of money through a partnership it had with Google. You probably remember that Google was once the default search engine in Firefox. They were paid hundreds of millions for this by Google, but last year switched to Yahoo.

yahoofirefox

Also in the past few years, Firefox’s share of the browser market has dropped by nearly 50%. So, the Mozilla Foundation is counting on contribution by people who appreciate their privacy-focused browser to kick in a little money.

These donations are not mandatory. You can certainly ignore the appeals. The option to donate monthly is just there for those who choose to do so.

So there’s no monthly fee coming for your favorite browser.

~ Cynthia