Meet Rachel Law, a 25-year-old graduate student from Singapore, who has created a game that could literally wreak havoc on the online ad industry if released into the wild.
Her creation, called “Vortex,” is a browser extension that’s part game, part ad-targeting disrupter that helps people turn their user profiles and the browsing information into alternate fake identities that have nothing to do with reality.
People who use the browser tool, which works with Firefox and Chrome, effectively confuse the technologies that categorize web audiences into likely running shoe buyers, in-market auto buyers, or moms interested in cooking and football.
“It’s a way of masking your identity across networks,” said Ms. Law. Ad Age visited the recent Design and Technology Masters grad at Parsons New School in Manhattan, where she sat working on her laptop in a sun-filled yet desolate lab space dedicated to collaboration among design and tech students.
It’s a bit like the ad blocker extensions of yore, except it scrambles information to trick ad targeters, all in service of an addictive game deemed “Site Miner,” which allows players to fish for cookies visualized as sea creatures. Players can gobble up cookies Pac-Man style, creating a pool of profile information that has nothing to do with their actual web behavior.