How To Disable FLoC on Chrome for Desktop and Android
Google is trying its best to make FLoC the standard method to identify user interest for ad serving and possibly replace third-party tracking cookies dependence. Other browsers aren’t supporting this initiative, and Brave and Vivaldi even created direct posts against it.
However, this isn’t going to stop Google from moving forward with the feature when Chrome holds over 60% of the browser market. In fact, FLoC has already been rolled out to some regions, and currently, it’s live on the Chrome browser for both desktop and mobile.
If you are wondering what is FLoC and how it affects you, then I got you covered. In this post, I am going to tell you what is FLoC and how to disable it if you don’t want to be part of it.
What is FLoC?
Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) is basically interest-based advertising on the web by studying a group of people (cohorts) rather than creating individual profiles.
Currently, ad networks use third-party cookies to track your browsing activity and create a customized profile to serve ads accordingly.
With FLoC or Privacy Sandbox as Google identifies it in Chrome, Google will learn the interests of people using their browser activity and create groups of people based on interests. Ad networks will only see the cohorts, no individual browsing activity will be shared with them.
This is supposed to protect individuals’ privacy by identifying them as an anonymous part of a group and not sharing their activity directly with the ad networks.
Even though it seems to protect privacy and should work much better than using third-party cookies, FLoC comes with its own share of problems. Bennett Cyphers has done a great job showing the shortcomings of FLoC, you should give it a read if you are concerned about FLoC.
To point out some main issues, Google hasn’t even created categories to create cohorts as they will be created based on an algorithm automatically. This means Google still has no control over how people will be categorized and how people will be treated belonging to sensitive categories.
Furthermore, this could create new opportunities for shady companies to fingerprint users and individually identify them.
Overall, FLoC has its positives and negatives, and whether you want to be part of it or not is in your hands.
Is FLoC enabled in your browser?
As this feature hasn’t been rolled out to all the regions, there is no guarantee it’s enabled in your Chrome browser. Also, there is a possibility more browsers may start supporting it later, so you should have a way to check whether FLoC is enabled or not.
Am I FLoCed is a website that can quickly tell you whether FLoC is enabled in your browser or not. All you need to do is visit the website and click on the “Check for FLoC ID” button and the website will tell you if it’s enabled or not.
Disable FLoC in Chrome
If the above-mentioned website confirmed that FLoC is enabled in your browser, then you can disable it if you don’t want to be a part of it. Below I am going to show you how to disable FLoC in both Chrome for desktop and Android.
Disable FLoC in Chrome desktop
On the desktop, click on the main menu at the top-right corner and select “Settings” from it.
Now click on “Privacy and security” in the left panel and then click on “Privacy Sandbox” at the bottom.
On the next page, disable the toggle next to the “Privacy Sandbox trials” option.
Alternatively, you can paste the below-mentioned link in the address bar to directly access it and disable FLoC:
Disable FLoC in Chrome for Android
Tap on the three vertical dots menu at the top-right corner and select “Settings” from it.
Here tap on “Privacy and security” and then scroll down and tap on “Privacy Sandbox”.
Now disable the “Privacy Sandbox trials” toggle and FLoC will be disabled.
FLoC is definitely much better than using third-party cookies as it can somewhat keep you anonymous. However, when it comes to the future vision of complete web privacy, it’s just another hurdle. We can’t blame Google either when most of its income depends on the advertisement. Of course, Google will try to find an alternative when the concept of third-party cookies starts dying.