What is a cookie?
A cookie is an inoffensive text file saved on your browser when you visit almost any website. The goal of a cookie is allowing the website to remember your visit when you browse that page again. Many people are unaware of it, but cookies have been used for around 20 years, since the first World Wide Web browsers were created.
What is NOT a cookie?
It is not a virus, or a Trojan, a worm, spam, spyware, and it does not open pop-up windows.
What information does a cookie save?
Cookies do not usually save sensitive information about you like credit cards or bank details, photographs, your ID, or personal information, etc. They save technical data about personal preferences, customisation of content, etc.
The web server does not associate you as a person to your web browser. In fact, if you usually browse using Internet Explorer and then you go to the same website using Firefox or Chrome, you will see that the website does not realise that you are the same person because the association is with the browser, not the person using it.
What types of cookies are there?
- Technical cookies: These are the most elementary ones and their purpose, among other things, is to find out if a human or an automated application is browsing, when an anonymous user is browsing and when a registered user is browsing. These are key tasks for the operation of any dynamic website.
- Analytics cookies: These cookies compile information on the type of browsing taking place, the most-used sections, products browsed, usage time band, language, etc.
- Advertising cookies: They display advertising depending on your browsing, your source country, language, etc.
What are first-party and third-party cookies?
First-party cookies are the ones created by the page being browsed and third-party cookies are those generated by external services or suppliers like Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.
What happens if I disable cookies?
Below we offer a few examples to help you understand the effects that disabling cookies could have:
- You will not be able to share content from that website on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social network.
- The website will not be able to adjust the content to your personal preferences, like online stores usually do.
- You will not be able to access the personal area on this website, for instance: My account, or My profile or My orders.
- Online stores: You will be unable to make online purchases, and these will have to be transacted by telephone or by visiting the brick-and-mortar shop, if there is one available.
- You will not be able to customise your personal preferences, like your time zone, currency, or language.
- The website will not be able to complete website analytics on visitors or web traffic, and this will make it more difficult for the website to be competitive.
- You will not be able to write in the blog, upload photos, publish comments, value, or rate content. Nor will the website be able to know if you are a human or an automated application publishing spam.
- It will not be possible to display segmented advertising, therefore reducing the advertising revenue of the website.
Can cookies be removed?
Yes. They be removed, and they can also be blocked, generally or for a specific domain.
To remove cookies from a website, go to the settings of your browser and there you will be able to look for the cookies associated to the domain concerned and then remove them.
Cookies settings for the most popular browsers
Below we provide instructions on how to access a certain cookie of the Chrome website. Note: these steps may change depending on the browser version:
- Go to Settings or Preferences using the File menu or by clicking on the customisation icon shown on the upper right-hand side.
- You will see several different sections. Click on the option Show advanced options.
- Go to Privacy, Content settings.
- Select All cookies and site data.
- A list will be shown with all the cookies ordered by domain. To make it easier for you to find cookies of a certain domain, you must type all or part of the address in the field Search cookies.
- After this filter is selected, the screen will display one or more lines with the cookies of the requested website. Now you only need to select them and click on X to remove them.
To access the cookies settings of the Internet Explorer browser, please follow these steps (they may be different, depending on the browser version you are using):
- Go to Tools, Internet Options.
- Click on Privacy.
- Move the slider to adjust the level of privacy you want.
To access cookies settings of the Firefox browser, follow these steps (they may change depending on the browser version concerned):
- Go to Options or Preferences according to your operating system.
- Click on Privacy.
- In History select Use custom settings for history.
- Now you will see the option Accept cookies, and you can enable or disable it according to your preferences.
To access the configuration of cookies in the Safari for OSX browser, please follow these steps (which can change depending on the browser version involved):
- Go to Preferences, and then to Privacy.
- Here you will see the option Block cookies to adjust the type of blocking you want.
To access the cookies settings of the Safari for iOS browser, do the following (subject to changes, depending on the browser version used):
- Go to Settings, then Safari.
- Go to Privacy and Security, you will see the option Block cookies to adjust the type of blocking you want.
To access the cookies settings of the browser for Android devices, please follow these steps (they may be different, depending on your browser version):
- Run the browser and press the Menu button and then Settings.
- Go to Security and Privacy, you will see the option Accept cookies to enable or disable the box.
To access cookies settings of the browser for Windows Phone devices, follow these steps (which may change depending on the browser version being used):
- Open Internet Explorer, then go to More, and then Settings.
- You can now enable or disable the box Allow cookies.