Amidst the chaos of life, we forget to notice the little things of everyday. How the brittle brown leaves sway in the autumn air or how untied shoelaces flap around with the power to make the ground shift from beneath you. These days, traffic lights are also a subject to this ever growing ignorance of following the “prescribed route” for achieving things. But there is something that tries hard to grab your attention, yet remains mundane enough to miss out on, is the terms and conditions section, especially while accepting cookies.
Cookies are simply small chunks of data of a website that is provided to the users. When one accepts it, they consent the data to be stored on the user’s computer. The website one uses is a powerful cue to their choice of content and thus helps the computers in deducing the desires of the users. Therefore, it is no magic that the clothing brand you viewed yesterday is advertising all over your social media today.
When you access a website, you’re motivated with a deep sense of purpose to achieve what you want. This purpose often overpowers the urge to be informed about the how, why and what, of accepting cookies. Where one could choose the central route to obtain knowledge about how their personal preferences are being recorded, they choose the peripheral route more often than not. The short cut may seem appealing at the moment but something to wonder about is if giving away the reflection of your personality to a machine cause it to detect loopholes in your privacy?
You can take the data out of the cookies, but you can’t take the cookies out of the computer
In a study comparing human and computer based personality judgements, it was found that computer predictions based on a generic digital footprint (Facebook Likes) are more accurate than those made by the participants’ Facebook friends using a personality questionnaire. And something to wonder about is that since “harmless” facebook likes can lead to a better judgement of personality, what can cookies lead us to?
You can take the data out of the cookies, but you can’t take the cookies out of the computer. With the world advancing into an electronic age, all one can do is be armed with critical thinking, awareness and control over their activities online. Because they are leaving a trail and you do not want trespassers on your privacy only to find out that you gave permission for it.
Photo: Thomas Korver