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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
Lafayette, LA
Know how to evade troublesome “cookies”
There is so much information out there these days on the Internet. The problem often is: What information do you trust? And just as important, who do you trust with your information? The Better Business Bureau’s vision is an ethical marketplace where buyers and sellers can trust each other, and this has never been more important than in today’s fast changing, technology-savvy world.
May 08, 2014

While on your computer, have you ever wondered why some online ads you see are targeted to your tastes and interests, or how websites remember your preferences from visit to visit? The answer may be in the “cookies.”

A cookie is information saved by your web browser, the software program you use to visit the World Wide Web. Cookies can be used by companies that collect, store and share bits of information about your online activities to track your behavior across sites. Cookies also can be used to customize your browsing experience or to deliver ads targeted to you.

The Better Business Bureau of Acadiana and OnGuardOnline.gov wants you to know how cookies are used and how you can control information about your browsing activities. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about cookies — what they are, what they do, and how you can control.

A cookie allows sites to record your browsing activities — like what pages and content you’ve looked at, when you visited, what you searched for, and whether you clicked on an ad. Data collected by cookies can be combined to create a profile of your online activities.

First-party cookies are placed by a site when you visit it. They can make your experience on the web more efficient. For example, they help sites remember:

  • Items in your shopping cart
  • Your log-in name
  • Your preferences, like always showing the weather in your home town

Third-party cookies are placed by someone other than the site you are on. For example, if you read an article online about running, a cookie may be used to note your interest in running and add that to a profile. Then you may see coupons to save money on running shoes.

When you choose your browser, you may want to consider which suits your privacy preferences best. To check out the settings in a browser, use the “Help” tab or look under “Tools” for settings like “Options” or “Privacy.” From there, you may be able to delete cookies or control when they can be placed.

Some browsers allow add-on software tools to block, delete or control cookies. And security software often includes options to make cookie control easier.

There are many decisions to made at this point but remember if you disable cookies entirely, you may limit your browsing experience. For example, you may need to enter information repeatedly or you might not get personalized content or ads that are meaningful to you. However, most browsers’ settings will allow you to block third-party cookies without also disabling first-party cookies.

The important thing about technology and computers is keeping updated! Out of date could mean vulnerability for your information. It could also mean possible attacks by malware. Most browsers update automatically or prompt you to update.

There are a couple of ways to opt out of certain types of data collection or certain kinds of targeted advertising, if you choose to:

  • You can download software — an “add-on” to your browser — that controls whether and how cookies — including opt-out cookies — are stored or deleted.
  • Programs from the online advertising industry, including The Network Advertising Initiative at networkadvertising.org/choices/and the Digital Advertising Alliance at aboutads.info offer tools for opting out of targeted advertising — often by placing opt-out cookies — offered by their members. You also can opt out by visiting advertising networks and advertiser websites one by one.
  • Deleting all your cookies will erase any opt-out cookies you’ve downloaded. To restore opt-out cookies, you will have to go through the opt-out procedure again.
  • Cookies are used for many purposes — for example, to limit the number of times you’re shown a particular ad. So even if you opt out of targeted advertising, a company may still use cookies for other purposes. Understanding cookies and browsers make your computer experience more pleasant and enjoyable.

Start with Trust®. Check with the BBB before doing business.

BBB works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses.

BBB of Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion.