Cookie Misconceptions

March 10th, 2007 by Chris

I was just doing some browsing on my brother’s computer, he uses McAfee and I got to looking into their SiteAdvisor feature, what a load of crap that was.

Apparently McAfee relies on the most ignorant of Internet users to review the security of various sites. One that was particularly distasteful was their reviews of Tribal Fusion.

People are absolutely spazzing out about finding Tribal Fusion tracking cookies on their PC. They say that if you get these tracking cookies on your PC you will get spam, viruses, trojans, and unwanted messages in your inbox.

The crazy thing is of course that Tribal Fusion is one of the more reputable ad networks and they do not allow things like drive-by-downloads.

If I were Tribal Fusion I would sue McAfee for libel, as well as any other socalled spyware removal company that improperly paints cookies in a bad light by grouping them with spyware or viruses.

The thing is the real crooks are companies like McAfee and Norton that blow security risks way out of proportion so that they can sell more of their products. They improperly label perfectly safe, and vital to Internet functionality, things such as cookies as security risks. In my book this makes them no better than snake oil salesmen who invent diseases to sell more of their bogus cures.

However we have the power to fight back. Nearly every family has a “computer person” who everyone in the family comes to for computer help. I’m willing to bet that the readers of this blog are the “computer person” for their family. This means that while the webmaster community is small, we wield great influence over other computer users.

Cookies are vital for website functionality and for advertising. The ignorant people writing those reviews on McAfee don’t realize that these “evil” tracking cookies are mostly used to prevent them from seeing too many ads. They also don’t realize that practically every advanced personalization feature used by websites requires cookies.

So, use your role as computer person and website publisher to educate your families and the public at large on the use of cookies. Tell your family not to install software from any company that overstates security threats, educate them about the nature of cookies, and if you run a community driven website or have a newsletter, why not put in a public announcement educating your readers about cookies?

It would be nice of an organization like the IAB could actually do something useful and run a public awareness advertising campaign to fix the negative connotation associated with cookies, but we all can do our part. For most of us Internet advertising is our bread and butter, and we should make sure it isn’t so badly portrayed.

One Response to “Cookie Misconceptions”

  1. Dan  Says:

    Ignorance among the non-savvy by association and perception. It is like those who label “adware” and “contextual” as bad things — the clue is in the title. Piracy is a no no for these whiter than white consumers, but someone spending money developing a tool then having the “nerve” to want to support it with ads — the CHEEK! A few bad eggs installing such with no notification spoiling it for the rest of us.

    Clear your cookies to prevent them “spying on you”, then complain you get blasted with the same ad over and over because frequency capping won’t work without it.

    On the same soapbox, block inline ads and grumble like a pensioner and label those who dare to monetise websites as scum. Then pop down the newsagents and PURCHASE a magazine for it’s content AND put up with ads on almost every page.

    I am fed up with surfing on new machines and wondering why AdSense doesn’t render then spending 5 minutes tracking down which app is responsible.

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