How does FloC Work

In the spring of 2021 there was just as much to do about a new abbreviation on the internet: FloC. What is that about – and what does it mean for you as a reader? In any case, it has everything to do with advertising and privacy on the internet.

An overview:

  • What do cookies do
  • FloC: an alternative
  • How does FloC . work
  • Fingerprinting

FloC meaning

The abbreviation FloC stands for Federated Learning of Cohorts.
If you want to understand what that means, you first need to know about advertisements on websites and how cookies are used.

What do cookies do

You are undoubtedly familiar with the term cookies: on many websites you must first indicate that you accept cookies before continuing.
A cookie is a small text file that a website may place on your PC. For example, it keeps track of how often you have already visited that site, or what is in your shopping cart.
This concerns cookies from a specific website, which, for example, support the functionality of the site.
A company that provides advertisements on a website may also place cookies. For those companies it is interesting to know what your areas of interest are. This allows the company to advertise in a targeted manner.
They do this with tracking cookies. Certain data from your browser and internet connection is stored on a server. This way you are recognizable when you visit another website. This is why – if you have searched for shoes, for example – you will suddenly be presented with advertisements for shoes on all kinds of websites for weeks.
That is efficient – ​​but also means that those advertising companies can learn a lot from you. They create a profile of you. That affects your privacy!

Block tracking cookies

Tools quickly emerged to protect that privacy. “Plugins” in browsers that block tracking cookies, for example. Some browsers even included this feature by default.
The most commonly used browser, Google Chrome, also has that option – but it’s not turned on by default. Chrome therefore has a somewhat special place among the browsers: owner and developer Google itself is an advertising company…

FloC: An alternative to tracking cookies

You can already feel the mood: Google does not like that it can advertise less efficiently by blocking the tracking cookies. Now Google is not so quick to say that out loud – after all, privacy is a great asset – but FloC is actually Google’s response to this development.
Just like tracking cookies, FloC is a new method for mapping people’s surfing behaviour. Thanks to FloC, advertisers (read: Google) can still show targeted advertisements.

How does FloC . work

Instead of creating individual profiles, FloC creates groups (cohorts) of internet users with the same areas of interest. You belong to such a cohort. This group contains several thousand internet users with approximately the same browsing behaviour. An algorithm determines where you belong. The profile is saved on your own PC. Each cohort has its own identification number.
According to Google, this solves the problem of privacy, but is that really the case? In practice, that seems only partly true – one of the reasons that Google’s plans have been criticized a lot.

Fingerprinting

A technique that can still be used to distinguish individuals is to use “fingerprinting”. With this, an advertiser compiles a list of some technical data that together make you recognizable as an individual again. Think, for example, of the combination of the browser you use and the resolution of your screen. This, in combination with the number of your cohort, ensures that the advantage of FloC over tracking cookies disappears.
In fact, you might consider that this makes it even easier for advertisers to find individuals with specific preferences: they are already neatly organized into cohorts!

Power of Google

A second objection to FloC is that it comes from Google. After all, in addition to being a browser manufacturer, Google is also the largest operator of advertisements on the internet. This together gives Google much more power than it already has. Reason for competing browsers to say they won’t support FloC.

Delay

The commotion that arose in the spring of 2021 around the intention to introduce FloC has made Google decide to take it a bit easier. Did she first want to roll out FloC in the spring of 2022, but this has now been postponed to 2023.
Will undoubtedly be continued.

by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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