Popular file hosting service, MediaFire, has asked Mozilla to take down the SkipScreen Firefox extension.
Like other file sharing systems, MediaFire download links take you to a web page where the download link is displayed along several ads which generate its revenue. For an ad free experience, users can upgrade to a Pro account for $6.97/month or less depending on the length of the subscription.
SkipScreen circumvents the download page, navigating to the download link immediately. So users don’t get to see the served ads, so they won’t click on them, or feel inclined to get a Pro account, effectively hurting MediaFire’s revenue and business model.
It remains to be seen what Mozilla will do with the request: SkipScreen definitely harms MediaFire’s business but it’s also about the user experience and how she interacts with a public resource like MediaFire’s hosted content.
In the meantime, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has sided with Worcester, LLC, the maker of SkipScreen, and has taken them as clients and sent a letter to Mozilla making the case for the continued hosting of the extension:
MediaFire probably would prefer that we all sit, transfixed, while they display ads for us, just like certain Hollywood executives wish we would never leave the couch or hit FFWD when commercials run during our favorite TV shows, and certain websites wish they could ban Firefox ad-blockers. Fortunately, there’s nothing in the law that says that by simply visiting a website, I give up the right to control my desktop.
EDIT: This post originally stated that MediaFire forced a 45 seconds delay before making the actual download link available. This was incorrect due to a confusion on my side: Media Fire download links are available as soon as a user reaches the file download page.Â My deepest apologies to readers and MediaFire.