What Are Internet Cookies?

InsightsRead time: 3 mins

We explain exactly what internet cookies are so you can make a more conscious consumer decision!

Do you often visit a website where a pop up message tells you that the website uses cookies, with an option to accept or decline.. and well, do you usually just click accept so that you can continue to browse through an online sale? I don’t think you would be the only one. 

Put simply, cookies are a small set of data from a website which are sent to your search device including a Laptop, phone or tablet, which are then stored in a file on your web browser such as Google Chrome, Apple Safari or Firefox etc. The minimal information stored in this file includes the name of the website and a unique identity number for you as the website user. Other information may include how long you spent on that website, which search preferences you make, which items remain in your cart or which links/pages you clicked on. Then, each time you return to that website, the website recognises that you are a returning user and companies can target your needs and wants because they have a small amount of information about you. They will often customize your experience by tailoring their website to your preferences. 

So here is the bigger question – Can you decline them?

The simple answer is yes you can. 

But what happens if you do?

If you decline a website’s permission to use cookies while you are browsing, they may not allow you to use the website at all. However, this is not always the case, some will continue to let you browse their website. 

Your user experience can often be enhanced if websites use cookies simply because they make it easier for you to browse by displaying products/advertisements on other web pages which are tailored to your preferences. For example, if you have been searching for denim jackets on a website, advertisements for many jackets including those that are denim, may appear on your social media pages. Cookies basically allow a website to keep track of your visits and activity while using it. When you add items that you so desperately want or “need,” to your cart, cookies are what help to keep your cart filled with those items you would like to purchase. If it weren’t for cookies, your cart would automatically empty every time you clicked on a new link. Another benefit of cookies, is being able to save a password for a login to a particular site that you visit often, for example your university student account.

However, if you are worried about privacy and do not want a particular website to use cookies then you should always decline. After all, it is illegal for a website to continue to use cookies without your acceptance and the company is likely to be issued a hefty fine. 

Cookie files can have a large impact on your future web experience as an online user. It is always a great idea to do your own research before you accept or decline anything on the internet.

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