While the concept of using technology to manage multiple accounts and different personas is not a new idea, the practicalities have been out of reach. With the new feature, users will be able to sign into multiple accounts in different contexts for such uses as personal emails, work accounts, banking, and shopping. Twitter is one of the most relevant examples in the immediate future, as it is not uncommon for individuals to have multiple twitter account for work and personal life.
“We all portray different characteristics of ourselves in different situations,” said Tanvi Vyas, one of the security engineers working on the project, on the company blog. “The way I speak with my son is much different than the way I communicate with my coworkers. The things I tell my friends are different than what I tell my parents. I’m much more guarded when withdrawing money from the bank than I am when shopping at the grocery store. I have the ability to use multiple identities in multiple contexts. But when I use the web, I can’t do that very well.
“The Containers feature attempts to solve this problem: empowering Firefox to help segregate my online identities in the same way I can segregate my real life identities.”
The Mozilla Firefox team are one of the first to have cracked the equation, though it does admit there are a number of challenges to come. Questions which the team now need to answer include:
- How will users know what context they are operating in?
- What if the user makes a mistake and uses the wrong context; can the user recover?
- Can the browser assist by automatically assigning websites to Containers so that users don’t have to manage their identities by themselves?
- What heuristics would the browser use for such assignments?
“We don’t have the answers to all of these questions yet, but hope to start uncovering some of them with user research and feedback,” said Vyas. “The Containers implementation in Nightly Firefox is a basic implementation that allows the user to manage identities with a minimal user interface.”