You better get used to the name ‘tracking beacons’ instead of Cookies

Well, if you take a look at it the name cookies feel a bit wrong as the purpose of this took is to track user activities to online an advertiser which definitely doesn’t feel like a treat at all.

Let’s dig a bit deep into cookies, after saying yes to the cookies, the website sends a text from web page to your compute stored by your browser. Now whenever a user requests for a web page, this text is passed back to the server where the developers use it for a variety of tasks.

The cookies are not all bad at all, I mean if you take a look at the ‘remember me’ feature that you use to login to a site, cookies help you with that right? So, I guess without cookies the internet would be way much messy and annoying as people can’t just remember all the passwords all that time but along with this positive effect, cookies also tend to allow other sites and advertisers to track the users without them even knowing it at all.

So many popular brands and tech companies using cookies give unclear results on how they use cookies in terms of their services which makes it quite difficult for users to trust cookies at all.

A meme-platform Giphy stated its privacy policy that their cookies don’t contain any personal data of users but it uses cookies to detect the users via their personal data and it also stated that its privacy policy only covers the use of cookies aimed for the brand and doesn’t own the tracking of user activities by third parties via cookies.

So, you see? Cookies aren’t as delicious as they’re sounding at all. The statements made by brands regarding the use of cookies are always confusing as they claim they use cookies but also claim that they don’t control the use of third-party cookies.

So when there are third parties involved in tracking your activities then this shouldn’t be called cookies at all and that’s why the name ‘tracking beacons’ is more suited.

Types of Cookies

Not all the cookies or the newly named tracking beacons are used in bad ways. If you take a look at the ‘first-party- cookies you’ll see that they operate directly by the website and load the tracked data to the website to help with its services.

The second type also is known as ‘third-party- cookies are the ones that shouldn’t be trusted at all as they are placed by a variety of marketing companies or advertisers to track user activities across different websites and with these type of cookies, the advertisers can so easily figure out the users even if they leave the website where they allowed the use of cookies.

The cookies contain a specific string of text with a key that helps the advertisers or marketers to associate the patterns of interests in user activities without even knowing their actual name.

If you want to take a look at the cookies set by different websites, just open your Browser (including Google Chrome, Opera) and look for ‘developer tools’ in case you have windows, if you’re a Mac user then go to View, then click on Developer and then click on Developer tools. After pressing on the Developer Tools, click the ‘Application’ tab which includes ‘Cookies’ in the menu showed beneath the tab. With this, you can see the list of cookies used by sites to track your activities.

With the change in the name, way more drastic changes are needed in order to secure users from third-party cookies as its difficult to avoid without the use of ad blockers.

In the meantime, people need to understand the working of cookies in order to protect themselves from being identified by third-parties and the best way to do it is by using browsers like Apple's Safari, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge as they already have so many restrictions against third-party cookies and it also blocked third-party cookies and trackers by default and if you’re a Google Chrome user then you better install a safe and well  reputed ad blocker extension to secure your browser and ultimately yourself from being tracked at all.

Read next: Google Chrome's “Extension Checkup” will help users protect their privacy and security
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