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What is a Third-Party Cookie?

Last Updated: September 3, 2021

Third-party cookies are created by domains that are not the website (or domain) that you are visiting. These are usually used for online-advertising purposes and placed on a website through adding scripts or tags. A third-party cookie is accessible on any website that loads the third-party server’s code.

Online advertising is the most common use of third-party cookies. By adding their tags to a page, which may or may not display adverts, advertisers can track a user (or their device) across many of the websites they visit.

For example, when you visit a news outlet’s website, the website will create a first-party cookie that is saved to your website. Since this is a news outlet, like many other publisher websites, use ads developed by other websites that create a third-party cookie and save it to your computer.

Are Third-Party Cookies Safe?

Similar to first-party cookies, third-party cookies do not cause a huge impact. Inherently, cookies are not dangerous and will not infect your computer with harmful viruses or malware.

However, third-party cookies can be seen as an invasion of privacy to some users. This led to the creation of new privacy laws, such as GDPR and CCPA, which give users more control over what cookies are tracking them.

Should I Enable Third-Party Cookies?

Most times third-party cookies improve web experience. These cookies may cause the ads you see to be personalized and tailored to the content you’ve interacted with in the past. It’s up to the user to analyze the risks and rewards. Some ecommerce websites will promote relevant discounts and show special prices to users they’ve tracked. Conversely, disabling cookies may decrease the risk of your data being involved in a privacy breach.

Are Third-Party Cookies Enabled in my Web Browser?

Some browsers like Safari and Firefox automatically block third-party cookies. Currently, Google Chrome still enables third-party cookies by default, although they have announced it will block those cookies around 2022.

Check and manage cookies by browser to see if your third-party cookies are enabled.

When you browse websites or domains using a private or incognito mode, your browser will not store cookies, history, and other behavior interactions. It’s important to note, you’re not completely anonymous when using these private-browsing modes.

Using a VPN, or virtual private network, will help keep a user anonymous since it will redirect your connection to a remote server. This allows the cookie to be stamped for that remote server in another country, instead of your local computer.

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