What are Browser Cookies?

Have you ever been browsing the web and come across a website asking you if you would like to accept cookies? Have you ever wondered what they are and what they do? Well, to put it simply, cookies are small text files from websites that are stored on your computer or the website’s server. These files help websites enhance the browsing experience. If you go to a website and it asks to enter your date of birth, cookies will keep track of it so you won’t have to enter it when revisiting the website. Cookies are also used by corporations to create targeted advertising, meaning if you visit Amazon for instance, and search for water bottles a couple of times, chances are (if your cookies are enabled) you will start getting water bottle advertisements on websites you visit. Because of this, cookies are very valuable and website hosts sell the users data to advertisers all the time.

When visiting a website, the “accept cookies” option may pop up and it seems your only option is to close the tab or click accept, however, clicking “manage cookies” allows you to disable them if you want. However, some websites will block themselves from you if you do not accept their cookies. The cookies themselves may be helpful in reloading pages and keeping information stored on them such as the contents of your shopping cart or login info, and people tend to only not accept cookies when they want to keep their privacy; not allowing websites to track their browsing. You can also delete your cookies if desired by going to “clear browsing data” and there will be a box with the option to keep or delete your stored cookies. Additionally, most websites allow you to customize your cookies and you can choose what they store and what they don’t.

One thing to note is that cookies do not have much of an effect on you when you’re on school computers. When you are logged into your WCPSS email or just using your account, you are unlikely to experience any advertising based on your browsing and saved info can be a bit odd. When it comes down to it, whether or not you use cookies is personal preference. If you enjoy the ease of access that comes with cookies, keep them. If you think targeted advertising is creepy and corporations are invading your privacy, disable them.

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