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You’ve probably seen cookie consent forms and thought, what are internet cookies? Recent laws governing the storage of user data on websites has brought the concept into the limelight, but many business owners still don’t quite understand what cookies are.
Unlike their baked counterparts, internet cookies are small pieces of data stored in your browser or on your computer. A website is allowed to create these cookies by default to save some subset of data about your browser session.
The most common use of a cookie is used whenever you have to log into your WordPress.com account. WordPress.com will use a cookie to store the fact that you have logged in, so that it can show you information that is most relevant to you.
Another example of cookie usage on your WordPress.com site is when a visitor submits a comment. In this instance, a cookie is created, containing their information so that when they comment somewhere else on your website, this information is automatically filled in for them.
Using cookies responsibly allows to you provide a more tailored, personalized experience for your site visitors.
As described in the online store above, cookies allow your shoppers’ wish lists or carts to persist — even if the shopper hasn’t logged into their account yet. This is useful if someone doesn’t have time to login and complete a purchase. By storing the wish list in a cookie, when your store page is closed and reopened later, their wish list is saved.
Other useful ways cookies can be implemented is if you’re using a service like WordAds to show advertising to your readers to earn income from your blog. By storing basic information about your readers, like their location, services like WordAds can serve them relevant ads, which they’ll more likely click on.
The important thing to remember about cookies is that if a website needs to store any Personally Identifiable Information (PII), it needs to let you know.
Lifelock described PII as any data that could be used to identify a particular person. So, your username and your IP address could be considered PII.
WordPress.com also allows you to opt out of some of their tracking options and provides this option to visitors to your site as well — available in each user’s Account Privacy Settings.