What is a cookie?
A cookie is a harmless text file that is stored in your web browser when you visit almost any website. Cookies enable websites to remember your use of the site for future visits. Most people are not aware that cookies have been used for 20 years, when the first web browsers appeared for the World Wide Web.
What is NOT a cookie?
It is neither a virus, nor a Trojan, a worm, spam, spyware, nor does it open pop-up windows.
What information does a cookie store?
Cookies do not usually store sensitive information about you, such as credit cards or bank information, photographs, your ID or personal information, etc. The data it stores are of a technical kind, personal preferences, content customization, etc.
The web server does not correlate with you as a person, but with your web browser. In fact, if you usually navigate using Internet Explorer and try navigating on the same website with Firefox or Chrome, you will see that the website does not notice that you are the same person, because the stored information corresponds to the web browser, not to you as a person.
What are the different types of cookies?
- Technical cookies: they are the most basic cookies. They allow, among other things, knowing whether it is a human being or a computerized application that is navigating, an anonymous user or a registered user, and basic tasks for a correct functioning of any dynamic website.
- Analysis cookies: they retrieve information about the type of navigation that is being performed, the most used areas, consulted products, time slot, language, etc.
- Advertising cookies: they show advertisements based on your browsing habits, your location, language, etc.
What are ‘first party’ cookies and ‘third party’ cookies?
First party cookies are those set by the website you are visiting, and third party cookies are those set by external services or providers like Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.
What happens if I deactivate cookies?
Read the following examples to get an idea of the consequences of deactivating cookies:
- You will not be able to share content from the website on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social network.
- The website will not be able to adapt the contents to your personal preferences; this is characteristic of online stores.
- You will not be able to have access to that website’s personal area, such as my account, or my profile, or my orders.
- Online stores: you will not be able to shop online; you would have to shop by phone or at a physical store.
- It will not be possible to customize your location preferences, such as time slot, currency, or language.
- The website will not be able to perform web analytics about visitors or web traffic; this will not allow the website to be competitive.
- You will not be able to write on the blog, upload photographs, publish comments, or rate contents. The website will not be able to know whether you are a human being or a computerized application with spam purposes.
- The website will not be able to target their advertising based on your location or browsing habits; this will reduce its advertising revenues.
Can cookies be deleted?
Yes. Not only can they be deleted, but also blocked, generally or individually for a specific domain.
In order to delete the cookies from a website, you must open your browser’s settings, find those associated to the domain in question and delete them.
Cookie settings for most popular web browsers
Steps to get access to a specific cookie in Google Chrome are outlined below. Notice: these steps may vary according to the web browser’s version.
- Go to Settings or Preferences through the File tab or click on the tab in the upper right corner.
- You will see different areas; click on Show advanced settings.
- Go to Privacy and Content settings.
- Click on All cookies and site data.
- You will see a list with all cookies organized by domain. If you need to find those from a specific domain, type the address in Search cookies.
- After this step, you will see one or more lines on the screen with those cookies from the requested website. Now, you only need to select them and click on X to delete them.
Follow these steps to get access to the cookie settings in Internet Explorer (these steps may vary according to the web browser’s version):
- Go to Tools, and select Internet options.
- Click on the Privacy tab.
- Configure the sliding scale until you reach the level of privacy you want.
Follow these steps to get access to the cookie settings in Firefox (these steps may vary according to the web browser’s version):
- Go to Options or Preferences, depending on your operating system.
- Click on Privacy.
- Under the History tab, choose Use custom settings for history.
- You will see the option Accept cookies from sites, you may activate or deactivate it as you prefer.
Follow these steps to get access to the cookie settings in Safari (Mac) (these steps may vary according to the web browser’s version):
- Go to Preferences, then Privacy.
- Under Privacy, you will see Block cookies; click on the option you prefer.
Follow these steps to get access to the cookie settings in Safari (iOS) (these steps may vary according to the web browser’s version):
- Go to Settings, then Safari.
- Under Privacy and Security, you will see Block cookies; click on the option you prefer.
Follow these steps to get access to the cookie settings in Android devices (these steps may vary according to the web browser’s version):
- Open the web browser and click on the Menu tab, then Settings.
- Go to Security and Privacy; you will se the checkbox Accept cookies.
Follow these steps to get access to the cookie settings in Windows Phone (these steps may vary according to the web browser’s version):
- Open Internet Explorer, then More, then Settings.
- Now, you will see the checkbox Accept cookies.