Do you have a favorite restaurant where you can walk in,
order the usual, and the waitress knows exactly what you want?
She may not know your name, but she knows you want
scrambled eggs, wheat toast and black coffee.
Like your corner coffee shop, online cookies recognize you
and can make your life faster, simpler, and easier.
Most major websites, search engines, and many online advertisers rely on cookies. Before you worry about cookies being a part of your Internet diet, get the facts—particularly as they relate to your privacy.
- A cookie is a small file that lives on your computer.
- It contains numbers and letters that identify your web browser, but not you personally.
- It sends information back and forth between a site that a person visits and a computer browser.
- It can only be read and understood by the site that issued it.
Think of a cookie as a coat check claim ticket: If you're holding “843,” it's connected to the red coat with gold buttons. But the coat checker doesn’t know who you are—only that out of hundreds of coats, this one is yours.
other cookie characteristics
- Some contain personal information: if you bypass login at a site on which you have registered, that cookie contains your login information (e.g., your email address or user name).
- They can’t access information from anywhere else on your computer, or run programs on it.
- They only communicate between your browser and web servers.
- Cookies help to target ads—showing you ads for things you're interested in. If you visit two or three auto sites, for example, it could mean you're looking to buy a car. So more car ads appear after you've visited auto sites. This “car” cookie has no personal data, it just knows you are interested in buying a car.
- Targeted ads don’t just benefit advertisers—they also improve online experiences by showing you products that are more likely to appeal to you, and help keep sites and services free and accessible.
- Site owners benefit from cookies that reveal the number of visitors they receive, the number of new or repeat visitors, content viewed, and for how long. This helps them know how to improve and tailor site experiences.
You control the cookies on your computer and can specify whether to accept third-party cookies from ad servers, only ones from trusted sites, how long cookies are kept, and whether permission is needed each time a site wants to send a cookie.
what to do
- Go into your browser's privacy settings to accept all cookies, no cookies, or save cookies only from sites you know and trust.
- Go into the Flash player's web site storage settings panel, where you will find a cookie management tool. Here, you can allow or deny flash cookies: http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/settings_manager07.html
- Also examine the cookies you have, and chose to delete them, either individually or all together.
- Remember: if you delete your cookies, your online experience will not be as customized to your specific interests.