1st party vs 3rd party cookies: Easy explanation

Tien Nguyen

What is a cookie ?

Cookies are small pieces of information that a web server stores within a web browser to track people across the internet. Cookies are how the Internet remembers you and it saves you the hassle of having to log into websites every two minutes. They are a vital part of how the web works, yet they are easily targeted because they are often used to store personal information of website visitors

How do websites use your cookies ?

Let’s take a look at how cookies work. Imagine we have a website that requires people to log in to see the contents of the site. When you log in, your browser sends your user name and password to the server, who verifies them. If everything is checked out, it sends you the requested content. However, there is a small caveat. The HTTP protocol - which we use to browse the Internet - is stateless. That means that when you make another request to that same server, it has forgotten who you are and will ask you to log in again.
Can you imagine how time-consuming it would be to browse around a site like Facebook and having to log in again every time you click on something? With the help of cookies, you can still log in to the website, and the server still validates your credentials. If everything checks out, however, the server not only responds with the content but also sends a cookie to your browser. The cookie is then stored on your computer and submitted to the server with every request you make to that web. The cookie contains a unique identifier that allows the server to remember who you are and keep you logged in.

But it doesn’t stop there. Besides keeping you logged in, cookies can also be used to store your setting. Let’s say you change the number of results your favorite search engine should return. Chances are high that they save these preferences on a cookie and not on their servers.

But there are also some restrictions on the use of cookies. Most browsers only allow websites to store a maximum of 300 cookies and they can not contain a lot of data (just 4096 bytes maximum). The biggest limitation, however, is the fact that cookies set by one website can not be read by another. And that restriction raises the question: how can companies use cookies to track us around the internet?

The whole process starts when you log into Facebook. To remember you logged in, Facebook stores cookies on your computer, and nothing unusual about that, but many other sites do the same things. A cookie will be stored on your computer by a website you visit. Each cookie is a small file created by the website you browsed. Since the data in cookies doesn't change, cookies themselves aren't harmful. They can't infect computers with viruses or other malware.

Get back to Facebook example, the Facebook’s cookie is scoped, or bout to Facebook’s domain name, meaning that no one else beside Facebook.com can read what’s on the cookie.

Now imagine that you browse away and you land on someone’s blog. The blog can not read your cookie, and the scope prevents that. Facebook also can not see that you are in that blog. But what if the blog owner places a Facebook like button on his website. To show this like button, your browser has to download some code from Facebook servers, and when it’s talking to Facebook.com, it sends along the cookies that Facebook set earlier. Facebook now knows who you are and that you visited this blog. Facebook is just an example here, and this technique is used by many other companies to track you around the internet. The trick here is so simple: convincing as many websites as possible to place some of your code on their sites. Facebook has it easy because lots of people want a like or share buttons on their websites. Google also has an easy job because many websites rely on its advertisement network or on Google Analytics.

But not all these cookies track you around. In fact, a handful of them are essential for the site to work correctly, like a session cookie to remember that you are logged in. However, the majority of cookies on these websites will not serve the users. They are there to track you or to display more targeted ads.

Who is affected by cookies?

As you can see, cookies are very useful, and it makes our lives a lot easier. Everybody is impacted by cookies in a positive way. Cookies are important to information seekers, bloggers and publishers because it’s how information is found and it’s how publishers get credit for the traffic they drive to affiliate sites. Advertising platform cookies are important for shoppers and ecommerce stores because they eliminate the friction from e-commerce transactions by remembering your personal information cookies, making transactions easier and more secure than the old way of doing things. Cookies are also important to mobile devices users and app developers because they allow for an easy handoff between devices.

Differences between 1st party cookies vs 3rd cookies party

Everyone is affected by cookies, yet not all cookies are created equal. Let’s talk about 2 types of cookies that are used to personalize our online experiences.

1st party cookies

First party cookies are created directly by the website or mobile app that you are visiting. They are only accessible on that website or that app. These first party cookies allow websites to collect customer analytics data, remember language settings and carry out other useful functions that help provide a good user experience. They are supported by all major browsers and they are safe to use for all users.

They are also called session cookies or temporary cookies because they activate when a user starts a browsing session on a site and expires the moment the user exits the site.For example, you enter a site and it remembers your language, location, login details, and whatever filters you set there. These cookies are necessary and useful for a smoother and quicker browsing experience.

3rd party cookies

Third-party cookies are used by advertising agencies who have clients that pay for displaying ads for products and services but they don't want to waste money displaying them to people who are not going to be a customer. So they need to track the types of site you visit and make an educated guess if you are the kind of person who would be in the market for what they have to offer.

Third-party cookies are like 1st party cookies’ evil twin. That’s how they are portrayed by privacy advocates, governments and web users. Third party cookies can be set up by any third party domain and share your data with any other third party and so for pixels from facebook ads on your site. Facebook can share data about your users with any other advertisers on their entire platform. This information is shared anonymously. Once a third party cookie is set, there is nothing a website owner or a visitor can do to limit where this information goes. It can be sent to the highest bidder. It can be used to follow you across the internet or even blackmail.

Zombie cookies are from a third-party and permanently installed on users' computers, even when they opt not to install cookies. They also reappear after they've been deleted. When zombie cookies first appeared, they were created from data stored in the Adobe Flash storage bin. They are sometimes called “flash cookies” and are extremely difficult to remove.

Like other third-party cookies, zombie cookies can be used by web analytics companies to track unique individuals' browsing histories. Websites may also use zombies to ban specific users.

How to stop websites from tracking us online ?

What can we do to prevent these cookies from tracking us on the internet ?

The only way to control third party cookies is to block their usage outright. Now fortunately, for most internet users, your browser will either block third-party cookies automatically by default or give you a way to control them.

Besides, as a user, you can protect yourself from trackers by installing a browser extension or applications that blocks them. These applications are especially beneficial to customers who are doing MMO, E-commerce business or Social Media Marketing because they need to run multiple accounts for the most effective work result. With Hidemyacc, you can control your fingerprints and manage your profiles and you still remain anonymous. Each profile will act as they are running on a different computer and separate environment. As a result, each profile will contain a different cookie and will be uploaded on a cloud (or not, based on your permission). So you can freely Making Money Online (MMO) without being tracked and detected by web-servers like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Etsy, Ebay... ️️

Hidemyacc software will help you hide original computer parameters and create multiple new computer parameters for each profile, supporting users to access the internet with multiple accounts without being detected. Download Hidemyacc and start your 7-day trial now!

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