Most users have heard the term cookies used when talking about the Internet but there are some who do not know what they are exactly and whether something should be done about them. It is actually quite simple. Cookies are used by websites to remember or record certain information.
For example, a shopping website will ‘remember’ what you placed in the shopping cart. So if you end a browsing session while shopping, when you go back to that site, the items will still be in the shopping cart. Cookies are also used to ‘remember’ login, passwords, etc. This is why when you go to your email, social media profile, etc., you may not need to put in your login details as the website ‘remembers’ those details. That is certainly convenient for those of us who struggle to remember all those passwords.
However, cookies are also the reason you are seeing very personalized ads while you browse the Internet. If you recently bought or looked at some item online, you will see ads advertising that item. There are various types of cookies and some are not entirely helpful to you.
First-party and third-party cookies
Third-party cookies are the reason you are seeing those accurate adverts. The third party, aka the advertiser, has access to information about your recent ventures in online stores. It places ads related to items/things you looked at/purchased on various sites you visit. If you recently looked at flights to Paris, you will see various offers for flights and hotels in Paris. If you looked at a certain TV, ads will promote that TV. That collected information does not go away, it is stored so that the advertisers can ensure that they are advertising what you would be interested in.
A first-party cookie, on the other hand, only stores information gathered from its own page. If you enter a web page and change site preferences, e.g zoom in, it will remember those changes so that the next time you visit that page, the preferences will be as you set them. But it will not follow you after you leave that website.
Session cookies vs persistent cookies
Session cookies follow the users as they move about a website. If you change certain preferences for a website, those changes will apply to all pages on that site. If you close the browser and then enter the same site again, you will need to make the changes again. Essentially, once you close the browser, the sessions cookies are erased.
In contrast, persistent cookies store information and will not disappear until you delete them.
If you want to be in control of cookies, follow the provided guides below. The instructions will help you delete the cookies and decide which you should allow and which you should block.
Manage cookies in Google Chrome
Go to Menu (the three vertical dots at the top right corner of the browser) -> Settings -> Show advanced settings -> Content settings. Select Keep local data only until you quit your browser in the Cookies section and check the box that says Block third-party cookies and site data. Click Done.
Cookies In Mozilla Firefox
Menu (the three horizontal bars at the top right corner of the browser) -> Options -> Privacy (from the menu on the left side of the window.) Under History, you will most likely see Firefox will: Remember history. Scroll down in that section and choose Use custom settings for history. There will be a section that says Accept third-party cookies. Select Never. In the below section Keep until, choose I close Firefox.
Cookies In Internet Explorer
Tools (top right corner of the browser) -> Internet Options -> Privacy -> Advanced. Check the box where is says Override automatic cookie handling. Select Block in the Third-party Cookies section and check the box below that says Always allow session cookies.
In Microsoft Edge
Menu -> Settings. Select Choose what to clear in the Clear browsing data section. Select all you want to clear (Cookies and saved website data, etc.) and press Clear. Go back to the Settings menu. Select View advanced settings. In the cookies section, select Block only third-party cookies.