Being a frequent internet user, you would have indeed come across the Accept Cookie notification popping up on the websites you visit. Most people simply click on Yes or Accept without thinking through. If you are one from the lot, do you have any idea what are cookies used for on websites? Should you accept cookies? Or, what happens if you don’t accept cookies? Would you be able to use the site still? Do you find yourself tangled in the question – should I accept cookies or not? Let’s find all of the answers in this post.
What is a Website Cookie?
Get your mind away from the scrumptious baked treats. Here, it’s about such a computer file that is increasingly becoming important. The basic version of the cookie is a simple text file available on your system.
When you visit a cookies-using site, a cookie file gets saved to your device. It stores the name of the site and the unique ID representing you as the user. This way, whenever you visit the site again, the site will recognize you.
Hence, the companies can customize their sites for you as they are already familiar with certain information. However, it would help if you kept in mind that not every cookie would be similar. Rather, there are three different types of cookies, such as:
Persistent Cookies by Third-Party:
These cookies get stored, but they are neither managed nor created by the website owner. Generally, information brokers create these cookies persistently to accumulate your data as you continue your online activities. Such cookies take your data and share it with advertisers so that they can show your targeted ads.
Persistent Cookies by First-Party:
These cookies get stored on the computer even once you have closed the browser. However, they come with an expiry date. These cookies are used only by the website owner. Mainly, their use is to improve the website experience, like remembering your preference, automatic login, and more.
These are temporary cookies and get deleted when you close the browser. Session cookies keep bits of relevant information currently, such as the last thing you searched on the website and more.
What Information Do the Cookies Hold?
It is evident that every cookie, at least, holds the name of the website and your ID. However, some sites may also include additional information in the stored cookie. For instance, some cookies may contain:
- The period you spend on a site
- Links you clicked on a site
- The settings, preferences and options you chose
- Types of accounts you logged into
- A record of pages you visited
- Items in your shopping basket
Should You Accept Cookies?
So, what does accept cookies mean? Should I allow cookies? When it comes to figuring out whether you should accept the cookies or not, the answer would be that you don’t necessarily have to do it. In case a cookie has identified you, it is your wish to accept or decline.
Mostly, not all cookies create an issue. Generally, website owners use them to make their websites improved and better for your navigation. However, still, cookie using websites are obliged to take your permission or face massive fines under varying laws.
What happens if you don’t accept cookies?
If you are thinking, what happens if you don’t accept cookies, we have you covered. If you don’t want a website to store your personal information, you can decline and say no. Even if you do so, there should not be any issue or hurdle in your navigation, and most of the websites should work just fine. However, once declined, the next time you will visit the same site, you will have to provide your information all over again. And, this will be repetitive, irrespective of the number of visits.
The other side of this is that certain companies may not allow you to use their site unless you have accepted the cookies. Specifically, after the GDPR introduction, certain websites no longer allow access without cookie acceptance. The reason behind this is that certain websites don’t work as intended without the acceptance of cookies.
When should you decline cookies?
There are two different scenarios when you should definitely decline cookies.
- If you see the name of a third party in the cookie notification, you can either unselect those parties or decline the cookie. Generally, such companies gather bits and pieces of information from thousands of websites to develop a detailed profile. While sometimes this may benefit you, other times, it may create a lot of chaos for you.
- The second scenario where you can decline cookies is if you are visiting a non-secure website. A site that is not secure already showcases how much the owner undervalues the personal information of visitors. This is essential, especially when you are surfing on public Wi-Fi, which can increase the chances of cookie stealing.
How to Protect Your Content?
Talking about keeping your content and information safe with cookies, there are a few essential factors that you will have to keep in mind. Jotted down below are some valuable things to remember:
- First of all, in case you are using public Wi-Fi, make all of your searches in incognito mode. This will not save any of the cookie information during the session.
- If you wish to have a personalized web experience but don’t want to share your personal information with third parties, you can add one browser extension that would enable you to choose the kind of information that you can share and with whom.
- However, if you don’t wish to install any extension, go into the browser settings. There, you can find a cookie setting and choose the option that states don’t use third-party cookies.
- Furthermore, if you are unsure whether you have given away a lot of information, you can redo the same in your browser. For that, visit your browser and clear all of the cookies to begin fresh. This will not log you out of the Google account. However, the next time you will be vising any other website, you will have to reread the cookie notice and decide whether you wish to allow them to use your information or not.