What Internet Cookies Should I Accept?

Almost every time you visit a website you will get some kind of pop-up or banner asking you to accept cookies or telling you what cookies are used. But what should you do? Just click accept? Decline them all? Or ignore the pop-up and browse on? Let’s take a look at what cookies are and what they do, so you can make informed decisions and stay safe online.

What are web cookies?

Cookies are small files that are created by websites and stored by your web browser. Cookies are important, as they allow websites to “remember” information about you, like whether or not you’re logged in, the language in which you want to read the site’s content and what you have in your shopping cart.

But web cookies can also be used to track your browsing activity, both on the website you’re visiting and around the web. This is why some people worry about them.

What do cookies do?

Cookies store information in your web browser, which is incredibly useful for how the modern web works. They have three main uses:

  • Session management – When you log into your Facebook account, for example, Facebook’s server creates a cookie with a unique session ID—a long, random string of letters and numbers—so that it knows who you are when you click around the social network. This is why it’s able to show you what your friends are up to, and not posts from a collection of random people.
  • Personalization – Cookies are used to track both personal preferences, like your language and currency, and to show you personalized content, like ads that are related to products you’ve viewed, put in your cart or purchased before.
  • Tracking – Cookies are also used to track how you and other people browse particular sites. This allows the site owner to understand what pages are the most popular, who is visiting and otherwise learn about their audience.

At their best, internet cookies are an innocent and functional part of the modern web. However, they can also be used by advertising companies and data brokers to track your browsing activity across huge amounts of the internet.

Frontier Fiber 200 Internet
Frontier Fiber 200 Internet

What are third-party cookies?

First, understand that first-party cookies are created by the website you’re visiting. For example, when you log into Facebook, it creates a first-party cookie to track your session.

Third-party cookies are created by services other than the site you’re visiting. Those third parties could be ad networks, analytics services and other tools the website uses. While third-party cookies were once a big concern, Safari and Firefox now block them by default, and Google Chrome has started doing so this year.

How long do cookies last?

Cookies all last for a different length of time before expiring. Some only last while you’re actively browsing a website, others are deleted when you log out and some can stick around for weeks or months.

Why are there so many cookie pop-ups?

Put simply, they’re the law. For example, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the European Union’s ePrivacy Directive and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation all require websites to either ask users to opt-in to cookies or to inform them that cookies are being used.

If you’re browsing a website from outside California or the EU, these laws don’t apply, but many sites display a cookie pop-up to everyone, just to be safe.

What cookies should I accept?

For the most part, it’s safe to accept all cookies, at least from websites you trust. Some cookies are necessary for the site to function, and while other cookies will track your browsing and show you personalized ads, they won’t harm you or your computer.

If you’re concerned about your privacy, you should accept any necessary and first-party cookies, but decline third-party cookies, advertising cookies and anything else that sounds like it might track you. This might take a few clicks, as most websites would prefer if you just accepted every cookie, but you can typically do it and the site will still work normally. Alternatively, you can use a browser like Safari or Firefox that will block tracking cookies automatically.

If you decline all cookies, some websites won’t work properly or even let you use them.

Do I need to clear my internet cookies?

Clearing your cookies isn’t essential, though you can do it if you like—here’s how. While it will protect your privacy a little, you’ll have to log into every website you use all over again.

Instead, if you’re concerned about tracking cookies, it’s better to use a browser like Firefox or Safari that blocks them by default.

Should I be worried about cookies?

While cookies are still widely used, they’re no longer the only way that websites track your activity. As browsers like Firefox, Safari and even Google Chrome have started to block the most pernicious kinds, big tech companies have come up with other—sometimes more privacy-friendly—ways to track web activity and serve personalized ads.

So, the next time you see a cookie pop-up, you can just click accept—or dig in and only accept the cookies you want. But either way, things will probably be okay.

Frontier Fiber is built for the way you live today—and tomorrow

If you’re still on the lookout for the right ultrafast internet connection for streaming, gaming, working from home and running your smart home—all with enough bandwidth for everyone—find out about Frontier Fiber. Frontier Fiber is available in select areas—check here to see when it’s available at your address. Then do what you can to stay safe online with Frontier’s security protection.

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