Because of recent laws enacted, many websites have a popup banner that asks you to accept their cookies. There is usually an option to choose which specific types of cookies you accept or reject.
But just like the cholesterol found in cookies made of flour and butter, there are good cookies and there are bad cookies.
First, what are cookies?
Skip to the next section if you know. And forgive me if there is anything in here that isn’t 100% accurate; I’m trying to simplify things to be more easily understood. Simply put, a cookie is a little crumb of code that a website leaves on your computer so that when you return it remembers who you are. This can have several functions. Most commonly, it allows a website to remember who you are so that you don’t have to sign in again, it remembers what items you put in your shopping cart so they don’t disappear, and they are used for traffic analysis so that they can tell how many repeat visitors they have vs. new visitors. Cookies are absolutely necessary for the internet to work the way its intended to, so if you disable cookies entirely things simply will not work as expected.
In the 90s you started hearing a lot about cookies and about how bad they were. That is because a website could add a cookie to your computer and a different website could read that cookie to see where else you have been. That problem was pretty quickly fixed so that now cookies can only be read by the website that put them there to begin with.
However, there is a pretty big loophole that web browsers and legislators have been trying to fix. When you visit a website, say, yourfavoritehealthsymptomchecker.com they may have advertisements from a big advertisement network. Because advertisements are really mini web pages inside of another web page, the advertiser is allowed to put a cookie into your computer. Now when you go to yourfavoritenewssource.com who happens to use the same ad network, the advertiser knows it was you who was on the previous website, allowing them to build your advertisement profile, more effectively manipulating you.
Web browsers have features that attempt to block this sort of activity, though it can break the functions of some websites such as Truist’s online billpay last I checked. Safari has Prevent cross-site tracking. Firefox has Enhanced Tracking Protection. Google Chrome has Block Third Party Cookies, which of course is not enabled by default since Google makes their money off of advertising. And I suspect it doesn’t do as much as Safari and Firefox.
Recently, laws have been enacted that require websites to allow visitors to opt out of tracking cookies. That’s why you are only recently seeing these popup banners asking you to accept their cookies. Clicking “Accept” quickly dismisses the banner (which is particularly annoying on a tiny screen like iPhone), but it means that all of their cookies will be put on your computer. But there is normally a customize option that lets you opt out of advertiser and tracking cookies. However, it’s tedious to make that selection on every website, so they are banking on few people actually doing it.
Enough yammering. What can we do?
That’s where Super Agent comes in. Available for most web browsers including Safari on iPhone and iPad, Super Agent allows you to choose your universal cookie preferences, and then when one of these cookie popups appear, it will make your preferred selection for you. Of course, this function is slightly different on each website, so Super Agent doesn’t work absolutely everywhere. But if it doesn’t work on a website click the Super Agent icon in your browser button bar to report it so that they can code it into their database.
If you are an existing customer who needs help with this or if you have other questions, or if you are in San Francisco and interested in becoming a client I invite you to book an appointment with me. Otherwise, you may wish to contact Apple Support or find a local Apple consultant.
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