Websites today normally offer some level of interaction – whether it’s sending and receiving messages, buying goods or choosing how you wish to view the site. To manage this, small text files called cookies are stored on your computer.
In order to make our advertising as relevant and efficient as possible we often match our advertising to historic browsing information collected from our sites. This is done using advertising cookies. All of the browsing information is anonymous, and none of it can be linked to you as an individual.
Are cookies viruses?
No. Cookies are not viruses, trojans, spyware, or worms or any other kind of malware.
Are cookies programs?
No. Cookies are not programs. They can’t install things you don’t want on your computer.
Can cookies see what’s on my computer?
No, cookies can’t see what is on your computer. Nor can they collect any other information from your computer, nor snoop on your files.
Can the cookies I’ve got be seen by other people?
No. A cookie can only be read by the site that gave you the cookie in the first place. And of course you can see your own cookies, as described later.
What is in a cookie?
A cookie contains seven main pieces of information:
The domain of the website that set the cookie. A cookie can ONLY be ready by the site that set it.
The name of the cookie
The identifying information the cookie is carrying. This is normally an encrypted string of letters and numbers, that is only meaningful the website that set the cookie.
How long the cookie lasts for. If this is not set, the cookie will disappear when you close your browser (session cookies). Otherwise it will delete itself on the date set in the expiry field.
This is not always used, but can be set so that the cookie is only sent when the user is in a particular part of the website. For example if the domain is set to acme.com, and the path is set to /accounts, the cookie will only be used when the user is in the acme.com/accounts part of the site.
This attribute can be used to tell the browser to only use the cookie when it is using a secure or encrypted connection.
Can I control the cookies I get?
Yes. You can control what cookies you get, and which cookies you keep, and whether or not information about your browsing activity is captured. This next section tells you how to control your preferences.
We are not suggesting you use all the different tools and techniques described below. They will not all be appropriate for everyone. It is however important to understand that there is a range of options and tools available, and it’s up to you to decide which if any of them to use.
Please note any settings you change will not just affect MailOnline cookies. The changes will apply to all websites you visit.
How can I see and manage my cookies in my browser?
Virtually all modern browsers allow you to see what cookies you’ve got, and to delete them individually or delete all of them.
Many browsers can also be set up to ask consent for each individual cookie before it is set. This gives you very fine control over what cookies you get, but it can slow down your browsing experience if you have to check each and every cookie.
Most browsers also give you the right to block third party cookies. Most of these third party cookies will be the behavioural advertising cookies. Therefore blocking 3rd party cookies is effectively opting out of most behavioural advertising.
Some browsers let you block cookies from particular sites. So for example if you are happy to get cookies from a site you trust, but you don’t want to get cookies from a site you don’t particularly trust, you can set up your browser to black list the site you don’t trust and refuse any cookies it tries to give you.
Most browsers will let you delete all cookies when you close your browser. You should be aware that any preferences including any opt outs you have set will be lost if you do this.
Finally, you can tell your browser to block all cookies from being set. You should be aware that if you do choose this option many sites will not work as smoothly as you are used to, and some functionality that is reliant on cookies to enable services you want to use will not work at all.
The links below take you to the help sections for each of the major browsers, that will tell you how you can manage your cookies:
Safari OS X
How can I control interest based advertising and other tracking cookies?
In addition to the controls available on your computer there are also other ways of controlling interest based advertising and other tracking cookies.
Please note that most of these controls work by setting a cookie that over-rides the interest based advertising cookie. If you delete all your cookies you will also delete the controls to remove cookies, therefore deleting your opt-out preference. In this instance you would need to opt out again.
What about Flash and Silverlight cookies?
There are several different types of cookies. The most common kind are HTTP cookies. These are the ones that you can control with the mechanisms we described above. In addition to the HTTP cookies, there are other technologies that work in similar ways to cookies such as Flash Local Shared Objects (LSOs) and Silverlight cookies. Some of MailOnline’s site use these types of cookies. You can control them manually using via the websites below: