Created as a collaboration between The OCR and Pulitzer Prize winning researcher Ashkan Soltani, Floodwatch is a tool designed to empower individuals to see how advertisers are profiling them, and to share data with privacy researchers in an effort to combat discriminatory practice.
Many of the ads in my Floodwatch history are artifacts from these algorithmic leaps of logic, evidence of the blunt-instrument approaches to profiling that are used in web-based advertising. They can also be reminders of the long memory of our ad identities– that brief dalliance with a jewelry site 18 months ago means I’m still seeing ads for watches every day. The aggregated portrait is not so much an image of me as it is an image of what advertisers see of me. It is an identity assembled from fleeting glimpses, long-expired actions, and, more than anything, guesswork.