Slow down for clarity of cookie options presented

This is part of the series on privacy in the digital world.

While trekking on the information superhighway, I recently stumbled upon a definition at that was very appropriate to this series: "On the internet, a rabbit hole frequently refers to an extremely engrossing and time-consuming topic." It sure feels like I'm going down a rabbit hole when researching the current state of "privacy," or lack of, in the digital world!

When I pull up a website in my browser, or get links to websites after googling, I want to get to the content in the shortest time. What's akin to speed bumps in parking lots of the real world, are the "pop-ups" in the digital world that you get when pulling up a website.

It's been more frequent to see these pop-ups and it doesn't matter what device you are using the browser on. These pop-ups are for you to consent to their "cookie [usage] policy" and are presented before you can get to the website content.

Said pop-ups are accompanied by a very inviting button that visitors can click/tap to accept all the cookies, first and third party, fed to your browser. So inviting is this button that you may miss the other button, uninviting – LOL, that says something like "Preferences."

Question: Is instinctively clicking on that inviting button a "good habit?" My answer is "no," unless you like being tracked by third-party cookies! Instead, if you do get the cookie [usage] policy pop-up, slow down and read the small print which probably alludes to you being able to set your preferences of which cookies to accept. Remember that you usually do this once and the browser and the website will remember your tracking preferences via first-party cookies; if you reset your browser or use another browser to access the same website, you need to do it again.

Once you click/tap that uninviting button instead, you should be presented with several categories of cookies the website feeds your browser. All the categories presented, except the one that says "required" or "essential," should be configurable to turn off.

Those configurable cookie categories have labels like performance, targeting, and ads. It may look intimidating but it really isn't and your goal is to "switch off" these tracking categories. Usually this is done by clicking/tapping an icon resembling a switch next to the category. Some websites may also use other visual cues such as "check boxes" that you uncheck. Just think like an Egyptian reading hieroglyphics, i.e. icons,  and you've got this licked.

The website might probably give one last college try to trick you into accepting their standard cookie [usage] policy instead of saving the changes you made. If you have continued to build good habits and read your options presented before pushing a button, you'll know which one to push, hint: button labeled something like "Save Your Changes," to minimize tracking by third-party cookies.

Tak Sato

Strategist and technologist with over 30 years of experience in the private sector. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives while using digital literacy as a tool for seniors to avoid loneliness and social isolation

Read More on The Digital World
Volume 14, Issue 11, Posted 10:06 AM, 06.07.2022