What exactly are ‘cookies’?
Cookies are very small text files or data files. They store little bits of information to do with the websites you visit.
What are they for?
Storing data. Some of that data gets passed back to websites, who can then make use of it in various ways.
How do they work?
When you visit a website, especially if it’s for the first time, the website is likely to pass one or more cookies to your web browser. They are then stored on your computer for future reference.
How long do they last?
Some, known as session cookies, are stored only for the duration of your visit to that website.
Others, known as persistent cookies, may be stored more or less permanently.
Are cookies good things or bad things?
Well, they are certainly not harmful like computer viruses.
Many cookies are purely functional. They are used by nearly all websites to ‘remember’ simple details such as which page you were on last, or what items you’ve put in a shopping basket.
Some cookies, however, are more controversial because the data they store and pass on may be regarded as intrusive, especially if you are not aware of them doing so.
In particular, there are some persistent cookies that work like ‘tracking devices’. They can monitor your browsing history and pass that date to advertising companies (so-called “third parties”). This is so that the advertisers can figure out roughly what category of person you are, and then show ads accordingly.
(For example, if you are obviously a young person then they might show fashion ads rather than ads for retirement homes — and vice versa.)
It is also possible that government agencies may intercept tracking cookies if they want to monitor specific individuals.
Do I have to have cookies?
No. While web browsers usually accept cookies by default, they can also be set to decline cookies — either all cookies, or just third-party cookies. (There is usually a set of options in the browser’s settings menu.)
You can also delete any persistent cookies from your browser whenever you like.
Note that declining or deleting all cookies will affect cookies that are purely functional. This can have a negative impact in that it might make the websites you use frequently run less smoothly than you are used to.
What cookies are used on this website?
As far as I am aware, the following types of cookie are in use on Personality & Spirituality:
WordPress: The website is put together by Wordpress, an all-in-one system which organises and displays the web pages, manages user comments, collects visitor statistics, and so on. So there will be some purely functional cookies used by the WordPress software to enable those features. They simply help the website run smoothly and efficiently.
Others: The website does also use some non-essential cookies:
- There are some cookies that belong to Google and are used to support Google Ads and Google Analytics.
- There are also some cookies that belong to social media websites such as those that enable the Facebook ‘Like’ buttons.
- Finally, there may be some used by advertising companies who pay Google to place their ads here.
Why do I need to know this?
For further information, see:
- Guide to the cookie law (Sitebeam.net)
- Cookie law blog (Cookielaw.org)
- Wikipedia page on cookies (Wikipedia.org), including the EU directive
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