IT House January 26 news that in early 2021, Google offered Group Joint Learning (FLoC) to replace third-party cookies that serve relevant ads on the site. After much opposition over the past year, Google recently proposed a new solution – the Topics API.
Google hopes to phase out the use of third-party cookies in Chrome by 2023. To that end, it is developing a range of privacy protection alternatives under the privacy sandbox. FLoC is one of the most important tasks.
According to Google official, FLoC technology uses machine learning algorithms to analyze user data and then create a collection of people based on the sites individuals visit. Advertisers do not get local data from users, but directly obtain a wider range of crowd portraits to distribute ads.
However, FLoC has also been criticized for concerns that it can still be used to track users. WordPress and Amazon shut it down, and no other browser has promised to adopt FLoC.
Google is now replacing its FLoC scheme with the Topics API. The Topics API works by having the browser (Chrome) determine "topics that represent the user's most interesting topics for the week based on browsing history" on the local device. Chrome will use the classifier model to map site host names to Topics.
IT House learned that topics including fitness, travel, and news initially offered about 350. Themes are retained for three weeks before they are automatically deleted, and Chrome will allow users to view and delete their themes at will — or disable the feature altogether. Google says the themes are "carefully curated" by humans and won't include potentially sensitive categories, such as gender or ethnicity.
When a user visits a website requesting a topic, the browser chooses three of them to share with publishing and advertising partners. These third parties will use this information to serve interest-based/topic-related advertising.
Overall, the Topics API seems to be more generic than FLoC. Compared to third-party cookies, Google wants to "make it easier for users to understand and manage topics."