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Thread: Web monetization of the nearby future

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: In my room

    Web monetization of the nearby future

    For a long time a lot of people have said that web monetization through ads is broken because it encourages spying on users. In order to get the right target groups for their product web agencies place cookies in your browser or fingerprint your unique browser properties and track you across the web to learn about you and your behaviour.

    Many attempts have been made to fix this situation. Flattr (by the pirate bay dudes) was an early one. Brave browser with its basic attention token (whatever that is) is a more current one. As is coil.com which I recently heard about because it gets you adfree imgur. Seems to be similar to flattr.

    Now another attempt is being made and this will be much more widespread and it will include you, simply because the largest web ad agency in the world is behind the plans now and that's unsurprisingly Google. I'm talking about FLoC which translates to Federated Learning of Cohorts.

    The idea is that advertisers aren't really interested in you personally, but in target groups. FLoC will be built into your browser, observe your behaviour on the web and then rank you into an according target group (cohort). This cohort will then be available to ... well any website and advertiser that asks for it.

    This may be marginally better than what we have now, but it also brings new privacy problems. Mainly through combination of existing data (eg because you're a logged in member of a website) + FLoC or fingerprinting + FLoC. The EFF has a good article about it: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2021/0...-terrible-idea

    Oh yeah, Google aims to make this a webstandard through the W3C. So forget about evading this by using the only alternative browser left (Firefox) after Microsoft jumped on the Chromium train.

    Further reading:
    https://blog.google/products/ads-com...ivacy-sandbox/
    https://techcrunch.com/2021/03/30/go...ive-in-chrome/
    https://www.theverge.com/2021/3/30/2...inger-printing
    Last edited by Kolya; 2nd Apr 2021 at 15:00.

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I read the EFF article too.

    Unfortunately shenanigans like this are part of the purpose of Chrome. Of course an advertiser wants to control the platform on which ads are displayed, and being open-source has not negated that control. I think we will see other abuses of that power as time goes on.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: In my room
    After some further reading it seems doubtful whether FLoC will ever become a W3C standard, much less get implemented in Firefox or Safari (who disposed of 3rd party cookies long before Chrome).
    However the general direction towards keeping private data on the device and moderating the ways in which it can be be accessed by other parties, ie some form of privacy sandbox - that will certainly prevail beyond this attempt by Google.

    Frankly I'm more concerned about finger printing, because that is already happening and it's personally identifiable and FLoC wouldn't be able to stop it.
    Last edited by Kolya; 5th Apr 2021 at 20:17.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    That's good to hear. A small victory for privacy, in an area of many losses.

    It's tangential, but I think Epic is trying a Google-like move with its store. I expect to see greater integration between the Unreal Engine and the Store as time goes on. Stuff like making the storefront mandatory to launch editing tools, or making Epic Store features far easier to implement than Steam ones.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    I have trouble believing that team "still doesn't have a cart" is suddenly going to pivot to improving their launcher integration.
    Last edited by Pyrian; 10th Apr 2021 at 21:44.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2004
    I haven't used Unreal myself, but from what I hear, it's still severely behind Unity when it comes to any 3rd party integration (storefronts, consoles, apis, etc.)

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    The only reason Unreal's first party integration isn't awful is because there's very little in the launcher to integrate with. XD

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Heh, I still haven't installed the Epic Store, so I only know what I see from afar. I still think they're aiming for vertical integration (in the economic sense, not the programming one), just doing a bad job of it.

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