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Google Kills Off FLoC, Replaces It With Topics


Logo of Google's Federated Learning of Cohorts project.

Google’s Privacy Sandbox lead Ben Galbraith said, “The design of Topics was informed by our learnings from the earlier FLoC trials.”

Credit: Google

FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), Google's controversial project for replacing cookies for interest-based advertising by instead grouping users into groups of users with comparable interests, is dead. In its place, Google today announced a new proposal: Topics.

The idea here is that your browser will learn about your interests as you move around the web. It'll keep data for the last three weeks of your browsing history and as of now, Google is restricting the number of topics to 300, with plans to extend this over time. Google notes that these topics will not include any sensitive categories like gender or race.

To figure out your interests, Google categorizes the sites you visit based on one of these 300 topics. For sites that it hasn't categorized before, a lightweight machine learning algorithm in the browser will take over and provide an estimated topic based on the name of the domain.

From TechCrunch
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