Population Infinite Week 2: Obfuscation


Identify a surveillance apparatus that tracks your activity (online or offline). Design a set of instructions for a procedure that confuses it, and perform those instructions.

The surveillance apparatus I chose to obfuscate was Google.

First I took a look at the data that Google had on me using the Web & App Activity tab of my Activity Controls. Google saves all the data from your searches, your interactions with Gmail, pretty much what you would expect. You can even download it, although it may take up to a few days, so much data does Google keep on each of us. There are separate tabs for your Youtube usage as well.

The main reason I wanted to obfuscate my search history was that Google uses it to target ads at me, and sometimes those ads work, and I look at things, and then Iā€™m being steered around this little insular, siloed corner of the Web. I want to confuse the site on what exactly I am interested in to broaden my particular silo, especially because when I took a look at my personalized ads, many of them were determined by sites I had visited maybe once.

So in order to add some noise to my data traffic, I did a search for the 100 most Googled words from around the world in 2019 (which I got from AhrefsBlog). They were in a host of different languages, so I am hoping to see my ads change to be in multiple languages.