Netizens aren’t backing down after an apology from Mozilla’s new CEO on his past financial support for the notorious anti-marriage equality law, California’s Proposition 8. The backlash began when digital dating service, Okcupid.com, took the bold step of redirecting anyone using the Firefox browser to a page calling on them to download a competitor browser.
“Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience,” said the diplomatic boycott page. “Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.”
Page redirects are the nuclear option of digital protests, as they sacrifice major traffic to make a political statement. Major websites haven’t dedicated the front page to a political message since the massive worldwide protest of against the Stop Online Piracy Act, where the likes of Google and Wikipedia blacked out their sites to stop a bill they believed threatened the existence of an open Internet.
Mozilla and Eich immediately issued unequivocal support for marriage equality in both a company and personal blog post. “I am committed to ensuring that Mozilla is, and will remain, a place that includes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, or religion,” wrote Eich the day of the backlash.
Netizens were not impressed. Okcupid.com’s boycott page is still up.
“Stop saying that this was merely a private matter that won’t affect your work as Mozilla’s CEO. That’s disingenuine [sic] and beneath a leader of your stature,” wrote ReadWrite’s editor, Owen Thomas. He added that Eich needs to “Go further. Say that you support the rights of people to enter into same-sex marriages everywhere.”
A Twitter search related to Eich’s statement shows that it wasn’t all that effective. “Non-apology”, “disingenuous” and “lip service” were a few of the choice words expressed.
Mozilla is in a fragile spot, to say the least. Half of the company’s board resigned over the choice of Eich as CEO. Firefox continues its glacial death as the top alternative browser (16% market share), as Google’s Chrome continues its king-of-the-hill rise (~35%), according to metrics company, Browser Share.
The Internet can be a very unforgiving place. For a long time, Firefox had the cool cache of being an free, open-source alternative browser. It had evangelists switching their parents’ computers to Firefox; they couldn’t stand to see anyone using a browser that didn’t support their free-information principles. It was the TOMS shoes of browsers.
Firefox no longer has its moral high-horse, and that leaves its fragile state without anyone to resuscitate it if flatlines.
OkCupid is owned by IAC. IAC is The Daily Beast’s parent company.