The Sunday Mail
While reading about cookies, I stumbled upon a hilarious kid’s view on cookies.
Its setting is the family’s study room, and it read: “Shhhhh, they are here somewhere. Dad’s always talking about cookies in his computer.”
The little people were looking for cookies.
After chuckling, two things immediately came to my mind: firstly, kids always watch and observe what we do.
Secondly, why would tech guys call them cookies when, essentially and technically, consumers are being profiled?
We live in a connected global village, and life seems impossible without the internet.
The outbreak of Covid in 2019 restricted global travel, and internet use surged tremendously.
Most urbanites know something about streaming and virtual meeting platforms, thanks to the internet.
With internet studies currently being incorporated initially in childhood education, learning more about cookies should be something other than the preserve of techies.
Even kids should, as this is crucial for their online safety.
According to statistia.com, the number of internet users is almost two-thirds of the global population currently connected to the world wide web.
In Zimbabwe, as of January 2022, there were over 4.5 million users connected to the internet. But, as much as the internet has brought so much convenience, is the internet safe for us all?
As you read this article, sit back and relax while enjoying coffee and some cookies.
You rarely meet strangers offering you cookies, except at some party or church event.
While surfing the internet, you must have seen a section asking permission to save cookies when you visit a site for the first time.
When offered cookies, please accept them, even if you are not to consume them, and pack them for the young lads at home.
Not on websites!
Cookies are small files that websites send to your device, which the sites then use to monitor and remember certain information about you.
When shopping online, for example, cookies are used to remember what is in your shopping cart.
Why are they even called cookies?
A computer programmer named Lou Montulli invented these text files and called them cookies because he had heard the term “magic cookie” from an operating systems course in college.
Cookies are neither good nor bad; accepting them is about your preference and the website you are visiting.
Without cookies, life will not be sweet. Ah, well, technically.
Every time you want the website to remember something about you, like your login details, ZIP code or social profile, cookies do that.
If you have social media accounts like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, cookies are already embedded in your device. I am sure you get the picture now that cookies are omnipresent on the internet.
All things being constant, cookies are good (almost unavoidable) and should be accepted. However, not all cookies are to be taken. Typically, there are three types of cookies.
These are considered the safest and most helpful, as they help websites deliver content suited for your device and remember the choices you would have made on them.
Session cookies are automatically deleted when you close the browser.
Persistent cookies are created by websites you visit and stored on your device. They can recognise return visits and remember helpful things about you, like your account.
They can only be accessed by the site that created them.
As the name implies, these cookies are not created by the website you are visiting. Third-party cookies are the least useful, pose security risks and are often accused of privacy invasion.
It is wise to block third-party cookies, especially if you do not want your online behaviour to be tracked by advertisers.
Third-party cookies enable entities to track user behaviour in a way the user might not be aware of, and they may infringe upon the user’s privacy.
Advertisers often use third-party cookies to track user activity to provide targeted ads to the user. This is a privacy concern for many who want to keep their browsing habits private.
Cookies are a crucial part of the internet; it will be tough to have the internet run efficiently without them.
However, not all cookies are necessary. For example, third-party cookies are used for advertising and analytical purposes to track your online movement and internet searches.
Although not malicious in the same way as a virus, you may not like the idea of your privacy being compromised and sold to advertisers.
So, next time you browse, remember that a digital footprint is left, and someone is paid to determine your preferences.Have a blessed week, and enjoy the cookies.
John Tseriwa is a tech entrepreneur and a digital transformation advocate focusing on delivering business solutions powered by 4IR technologies. He can be contacted at [email protected] or +263773289802.