Google is about to replace its controversial FLoC with Topics

As you may remember, recently Google introduced a new user tracking technology called FLoC as a replacement for classic cookies. The technology has been criticized by major browser vendors. Still, Mozilla, Vivaldi, Brave, and other browsers aren't going to implement FloC. So Google is here with a different solution called Topics API.


FLoC stands for Federated Learning of Cohorts. Instead of tracking individual users, FLoC generates groups of people with common interests. Every FLoC group consists of 1000 users. The problem here is that a website will get your FLoC group ID from the very first time you open it, and learn everything about your preferences and habits right away.

Google Topics API

Google Topics API

Google now offers Topics API as a replacement for FLoC. It will also create groups of users that advertisers can target. But now the group is created for a single topic of interest, instead of the group of people that share common interests in case of FLoC.

With Topics, your browser determines a handful of topics, like “Fitness” or “Travel,” that represent your top interests for that week based on your browsing history. Topics are kept for only three weeks and old topics are deleted. This process happens entirely on your device without involving any external servers, including Google servers. When you visit a participating site, Topics picks just three topics, one topic from each of the past three weeks, to share with the site and its advertising partners. Topics enables browsers to give you meaningful transparency and control over this data, and in Chrome, we’re building user controls that let you see the topics, remove any you don’t like, or disable the feature completely.

So, Topics will exclude users' private data and sensitive categories like gender or race. It will provide anonymous stats.

However, not everything is fine with the new technology. As Topics API are part of the browser, it will define to exactly which group to include you by analyzing your browsing history. So it reveals your habbits to an advertiser anyway.

Also, it is not known is the user will be able to disable the Topics feature in Chrome. The search giant says that it will soon become available for testing by web devs.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

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