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What is Firefox SmartBlock? Mozilla’s ‘best of both worlds’ browsing explained

Mozilla has launched the Firefox 87 browser with SmartBlock, a new feature that offers protection against cross-site tracking, without breaking the website you’re visiting.

Firefox’s existing content blocking feature, which is available in Private Browsing windows and Strict Tracking Protection modes blocks third-party scripts, images, and other content and that can lead to a poorly-rendered or completely broken experience for web users.

Essentially, what we’ve gained in privacy, we’ve often sacrificed in usability, but it seems we’ll be able to have the best of both worlds with SmartBlock in Firefox 87 – full protection from cross-site tracking and fast-loading pages uninhibited by those troublesome scripts.

Available now on PC, Mac and Linux, the SmartBlock feature “intelligently fixes up web pages that are broken by our tracking protections, without compromising user privacy.”

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Mozilla says it’s able to intelligently replace the troublesome scripts with stand-ins that fill in the gaps and enable the site to load unencumbered by unwanted cross-site tracking tech. As such, the page should be presented as intended by the developer.

In a blog post, the Mozilla foundation explains: “SmartBlock does this by providing local stand-ins for blocked third-party tracking scripts. These stand-in scripts behave just enough like the original ones to make sure that the website works properly. They allow broken sites relying on the original scripts to load with their functionality intact.”

You can see how it can potentially improve performance in the animations below:

So, essentially Firefox 87 is able to fix the web that previous versions of Firefox broke in order to give you a more private web browsing experience, free from advertisers following you around and collecting your habits.

It sounds like the best of both worlds, let’s hope it plays out in practice. Have you taken SmartBlock for a spin? Let us know @trustedreviews on Twitter.

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