In brief

  • Mozilla announced today it had paused crypto donations.
  • The decision comes after a week of pushback from the open-source community.
  • The main point of the criticism is the environmental impact of cryptocurrency.

After a wave of criticism from the open-source community this week, Mozilla, the company behind the popular Firefox browser, announced on Thursday it has paused accepting donations in cryptocurrency, citing an "important discussion" about the environmental impact of digital assets.

"Last week, we tweeted a reminder that Mozilla accepts cryptocurrency donations," Mozilla tweeted. "This led to an important discussion about cryptocurrency's environmental impact. We're listening, and taking action."

Now the organization says it is reviewing if and how its current policy on crypto donations fits with its broader climate goals, and is pausing the ability to donate cryptocurrency for its 211 million active users.

 

The uproar started on December 31, when Mozilla posted a short tweet reminding followers they can use crypto to make donations to the Mozilla Foundation. Mozilla's tweet cited Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin specifically.

Many Firefox users on Twitter were not happy to learn that Mozilla accepts Bitcoin, and were clearly unaware it has done so since 2014.

The chorus of dissent included Mozilla co-founder Jamie Zawinski, who didn't mince words when voicing his disapproval.

"Hi, I'm sure that whoever runs this account has no idea who I am, but I founded @mozilla and I'm here to say fuck you and fuck this," Zawinski tweeted. "Everyone involved in the project should be witheringly ashamed of this decision to partner with planet-incinerating Ponzi grifters."

Blockstream CEO Adam Back was one of many Bitcoiners who pushed back against Zawinski, tweeting, “Turns out some early coders having been living under a rock about #bitcoin. Someone brain-dump @jwz , he blocked me already and all I suggested was some ex-mozilla people to talk to for a brain dump. That's weak sauce for the famed @jwz hacker dude.”

But Zawinski was hardly alone in his complaint. Peter Linss, who designed the Gecko browser engine used in the Firefox browser and Thunderbird email client, joined in.

"Hey @mozilla, I expect you don't know me either, but I designed Gecko, the engine your browser is built on," Lines tweeted. "And I'm 100% with @jwz on this. What. The. Actual. Fuck. You were meant to be better than this."

Mozilla says that while decentralized web technologies continue to be an important area to explore, they say a lot has changed since they started accepting crypto donations in 2014.

"In the spirit of open-source, this will be a transparent process and we'll share regular updates," Mozilla says. "We look forward to having this conversation and appreciate our community for bringing this to our attention."

Mozilla is just the latest tech company to face backlash for embracing crypto, though it has more often happened lately with gaming companies and NFTs.

Last month GSC Game World canceled plans to integrate NFTs into its game "S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl" after receiving negative criticism and pushback from the gaming community. That same month, gamers criticized Ubisoft after the game publisher announced it would implement NFTs in its "Ghost Recon Breakpoint" first-person shooter game. And back in November, social platform Discord stoked the ire of gamers when the CEO teased a MetaMask Ethereum wallet integration, which he then walked back.

Meanwhile, in contrast to Firefox’s U-turn, privacy-focused browser Brave has fully embraced crypto and saw its user base surpass 50 million active users in 2021.