Written by Internet

Cookie Deletion

I do wonder sometimes whether or not digital media industry is desperately trying to cause more problems to itself than is absolutely necessary.
Take cookies.
Cookies are clearly very useful. They serve many purposes for many websites, as well as advertising networks and so on. They can be very powerful. And users find them useful – when I visit a site, it already knows who I am, and cookies help me carry out tasks that I want to carry out.
And yet, and yet, and yet…
According to a recentish ComScore piece of research 26.8% of users in the UK delete their cookies in a given month, this rises to 35.0% for third party cookies (the difference seems to be do with security software settings).
So already, lots of people are deleting their cookies, but – in a given month – most won’t.
I wonder, therefore, if the digital media industry is helping itself with some of the things it’s doing.
– We have Facebook seemingly not removing (or making inactive) cookies when users logout allowing them to track usage of individuals on Facebook enabled websites even when they’ve logged out (Facebook has promised to fix this [UPDATE] They have).
– Airlines’ websites “seem” to remember whether you’ve searched for a specific flight before, and also “seem” to put the price up when you search for the same flight a little bit later. More and more savvy travellers are learning to delete cookies before searching for flights.
– The same is said to be true for some hotel groups.
I’m firmly convinced that most people do not realise quite the extent that they’re being tracked by cookies. I’m also firmly of the view that it’s their security software that is “managing” their cookies rather than users diligently going into their browsers’ settings and deleting cookies.
But moves like the above only mean cookies fall directly into the public gaze. And I’m fairly sure that the public isn’t going to like what it finds.
Then there’s the small matter of the European directive on cookies that might still be on the backburner right now, but at some point is going to be enormously unpleasant for some.
Cookies are going to be much bigger news than they have been previously – of that much I’m certain. And the news isn’t going to be good.