Understanding Cookies on Websites

Have you ever wondered how websites remember your preferences or what is in your shopping cart? It is all thanks to a system called cookies. Yes, it sounds yummy but we are not talking about the sweet treats here. In this article, we will talk about the non-edible, digital cookie which plays a vital role in the online user experience.

What Are Cookies, and How Do They Work?

A cookie is like a note that a website leaves on a computer. When someone returns to that website, the computer sends the note back to the website. This note helps the website remember some useful information. For example, think of an online bookstore. It might use a cookie to remember authors and book titles you have looked at or ordered. When you return to the website, the cookie helps the website to suggest more books by the same authors or related topics.

The “Cookie Law”

These days, the law regarding cookies has been developed to secure users with their personal information. Website owners have to comply with the cookie law. In a nutshell, any website owner needs to do these 3 things;

  • Find out what kind of information the website stores using cookies.
  • Let the audience know what they are and how they are used for.
  • Implement a system to give users control over the cookies.

Many websites now have pop-ups asking if you would allow cookies and if you want to customize the information you give out while browsing.

Types of Cookies

Cookies have some types and these are the main two.

  • Session Cookies: These are like short-term memory. They only last as long as someone is on a website. When users leave, they disappear. They’re handy for things like online shopping. They help the website remember what is in the cart as one moves around the site to gather all the wanted products.
  • Persistent Cookies: These cookies have a longer memory. They can stick around for months or even years. They’re used to recognizing when someone comes back to a website. They make the experience more personalized, like remembering a name and password on login pages.

Should We Concern About Cookies?

One of the common questions people ask is if these cookies are something we need to watch out for in terms of personal information security. In short, cookies are generally harmless. They cannot collect personal information unless provided. However, some services may use cookies to build a profile of interests based on the websites visited and what’s done there. Advertisers on some websites might use this information to show ads tailored to interests and buying habits.
If you ever feel uncertain about how cookies are being used on a website, it’s a good idea to check the website’s privacy policy. This document will provide insights into how information is handled.

Cookies are like little helpers for websites. They make the online experience smoother and more personalized. They are not after personal information – they are here to enhance the digital journey. 

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