How to clear cookies and avoid ‘repeated’ advertisements in browsing

If you have ever searched for a product to buy online, you must have noticed that advertisements for that same product start to appear in various corners of the internet. This “stalking” is one of the effects of using cookies: text files deposited by a website on each computer, indicating that that person has already visited a certain page.

Do you know when you enter a new website and then there is a request for you to “accept cookies” to continue browsing? That’s where it happens. Çom the data they record, brands identify your profile and start to target specific advertising to you.

But this is perhaps the least of the problems. Cookies can also track and identify sensitive information, which is then shared or even sold to third parties.

Did you have a regret for always clicking “yes” on that blessed question? You don’t have to blame yourself so much. First, many Brazilians also accept cookies from all websites. According to a recent survey by avast, a digital security company, 50% of respondents said they followed this line. The survey heard 1,000 people over the age of 18 who live in Brazil.

Second, because these records can also bring benefits, such as improving the services of the siteindicate the resources most used by the visitor, identify errors to be corrected, remember the preferences of each Internet user and facilitate navigation.

“I’m being watched”

Repeat ads are part of a marketing technique called “retargeting”. It’s not very different from a pushy salesperson in the physical world: a website identifies that you’ve searched for a product and starts to remind you that it sells that product (sometimes, even with a discount, to try to close the deal once and for all). .

In many people, this arouses a sense of monitoring: “someone is seeing what I’m accessing on the internet”. Therefore, according to research by Avast, among Brazilians who refuse cookies:

  • 60% say they do so out of concern for the information collected.
  • 22% do so because it makes their browsing experience worse.
  • 23% because they don’t like to receive targeted advertising.

The Creator and the Creature

In January, French authorities fined Google and Meta (the company that owns Facebook) an amount equivalent to BRL 1.3 billion for using cookies. According to the French investigation, both made it easier to accept them than to refuse them.

The American programmer Lou Montulli is considered the “inventor” of the cookie and, in the face of so much controversy, he felt he had to go public to justify why this “Frankenstein” had apparently rebelled against its creator.

“My invention is at the technological heart of many advertising schemes, but I had no such intention,” he said in an interview with AFP. “It’s just a core technology to enable the web to work.”

Montulli said that the idea was only to use “primary” cookies, which the page visited itself deposits in the machine to identify whether or not that is the first visit of an Internet user. So, for example, it would not be necessary to log in more than once when returning to the same site.

However, “third-party” cookies soon appeared, also deposited on your computer when visiting a page, but which were not developed by that page. When you see advertising for a brand on a news site, for example, the cookies for that advertisement do not belong to the site, but to the advertiser.

“Personalized ads are only possible thanks to the collusion between numerous sites and an ad network,” said Montulli.

clearing cookies

It is important to clear cookies from time to time. Not only for the sake of privacy, but also to improve navigation, because cookies accumulate (and take up memory) with each new session initiated in a browser.

To do this, just follow the steps below.

in Chrome

  • In the upper right corner of the browser, click on the three dots
  • In this menu, go to “More Tools”
  • click in “Clean navigation data”
  • select option “Cookies and other site data”
  • click in “Remove Data”

At the Firefox:

  • In the upper right corner of the browser, click the three horizontal stripes
  • In this menu, click “Options”
  • Access the option “Privacy and Security”
  • Go to item “Cookies and Website Data”
  • click in “Clear Data”

*With article by Guilherme Tagiaroli and Rodrigo Lara, published on July 27, 2021