Today, it seems like every website you visit is asking you to accept their cookies. You don’t really know what this means, and it doesn’t seem sinister, so you click ‘accept all’ and move on to the website you’re there to visit. But in this case, ignorance is not bliss.
Cookies are small text files from all the websites that you visit. They are stored on your computer and contain a string of characters: a character, a value and an attribute. They store things like the language you use when browsing a site, or something as basic as the color or skin of your browser. They are stored in a folder in your computer’s web browser named ‘Cookies’.
Cookies are a double-edged sword, meaning that they have pros and cons. They personalize your browsing experience, but they also accumulate your unique data and can potentially compromise your privacy. If you want to know more about how cookies work and what you can do to manage them, keep reading.
What Are Cookies?
HTTP cookies are data packets used for internet browsing. These data packets contain information on your browsing preferences and IP data, like location, that are sent to every new website you visit so as to personalize your browsing experience such as with relevant local advertisements, content you’ve browsed before, even the local weather, but they also store information like your passwords and the content of your shopping carts.
Should You Enable Or Disable Cookies?
Some cookies can’t be disabled. These are the first-party cookies that impact the website’s functionality and come with the website itself. Your shopping cart, for example, stays the same even if you leave and return to the page. We can also differentiate cookies based on whether they are essential to the website’s functionality (usually those first-party cookies), or inessential.
Many of those inessential cookies, chiefly the third-party cookies from social media sites, advertisers and other companies, are used to track your activities more intimately. Information such as how long you spend on each page playing games at Black Lotus or reading text, your routes of pages visited when navigating sites, browsing history and more.
What Can You Do About Cookies?
While some cookies are inevitable, there are steps everyone can take to limit their exposure to that form of data mining. You can adjust the privacy settings on your browser to only accept essential cookies, delete the ones that are already there, and browse in privacy mode.