How do I manage or block cookies in Internet Explorer?
By Dave Taylor
The Question:I’m getting creeped out about how well the ads on different sites track me. I search for something on Amazon and the next day there are ads for that exact product on third party sites. How do they know what I searched for? More importantly, how do I stop this?!
What you’re talking about is known in the industry as “third party tracking cookies” and you’re right, they can be more than a bit weird when you search for something then ads for that very product show up everywhere, on newspaper sites, hobby sites, even your own Gmail account. What the deuce??
The way this works is that there are third party ad servers that these sites are sharing and those use a tracking cookie, a small snippet of text data that uniquely identifies your browser. The ad server software then uses that to track and correlate your activities across multiple sites, whether it’s a shopping site, news site, sports site, or whatever else you may visit. Imagine that on these sites — including this one, Ask Dave Taylor — there are small pieces chopped out that are actually filled by a third party system. Indeed, the ad on the left here is filled through the Google AdSense system, and as I write this, I have no idea what’s going to show up when you view this page.
Mostly this behavior is benign and I do subscribe to the view that if ad targeting is done well it’s a benefit, not a problem, but I can also completely understand how you might see things differently. If so, no worries, you can block third party tracking cookies in every modern browser nowadays, whether you’re on Windows, Mac or even Linux.
For Windows 7, the most popular browser is Internet Explorer (aka “MSIE”) and it’s pretty straightforward to get that set up properly…
Launch Internet Explorer, then look on the top right for the ‘gear’ icon. It’s just below the “X”:
Click on the gear and a complex set of menus appear. Choose “Safety”…
This post is excerpted with permission from Dave Taylor.
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