"Dirty" Cookies and Facebook Insanity

First of all, the basics: the absolutely best cookies on the face of Earth are Coach’s Oats Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies.   Shame on you, Costco, for not carrying it anymore… now that you got me hooked, I have to mail order it at double cost.smile_baringteeth

But today we’re talking about different kind of cookies – those that websites place on your computer to track your browsing habits and to report back to the “mother site”.  The obvious Privacy 101 principle for years has been to control cookies.  We’ve seen an army of cookie-washer products, the popular browsers all offer their own privacy/cookie settings. Not being satisfied by any of the “smart options” , i.e. differentiate between third-party and on-site cookies, session-only cookies..etc, I’ve long settled on a manual solution of getting prompted every time I new cookie comes up.

In theory, this is an inconvenience only for a few days/ weeks, but after a while when you’ve seen most of your regular destinations, the defaults work quite well, the cookie-prompts fade away.   Except … my old trusted system works less and less. 

Quite a few sites – including blogs – will fail to load properly when seemingly unrelated, third-party cookies are blocked.  Sometimes they work, but next time you come back to the site, there’s just a white, blank screen.  This is ugly.  Since I can’t easily figure out what blocked the site, I typically end up deleting all browser cookies as well as all cookie-rules.  Then it all starts again – some of the sites / blogs take minutes to rotate through dozens of cookie-requests, literally making it impossible to read their own content.  I’m about to give up: might as well just enable cookies – privacy is long gone, anyway.  Besides, if I am getting ads served up, they might as well be better targeted.

How do you deal with cookies? (If you’re reading the feed, pls. click through to the poll)



As for the Insanity part, it’s all over TechMeme today:  FaceBook worth $100 billion, because of those cookies?  I don’t want to be an alarmist, but this is indeed bubble-talk.


Read also:  Digital Daily, Adonomics Blog, PC4Media, Bubblegeneration Strategy Lab, Silicon Alley Insider, Don Dodge on The Next …, A VC,, Read/WriteWeb, Silicon Valley Watcher, SmoothSpan Blog, WeBreakStuff (the guy who designed TechCrunch 1.0SYNTAGMA, WinExtra, Wikinomics.

Update (10/31): Little did I know that a day after writing the above cookies become the topic du jour.  Did we not have this discussion 8-9 years ago?  The difference: while back then the consensus was pro-privacy, anti-cookie, today it’s obvious that privacy is a myth, and the convenience of having personalized content (including ads) outweighs the remaining privacy concerns.  At least that appears to be the majority opinion:

DSLreports,, Insider Chatter, Wikinomics, O’Reilly Radar, This is going to be BIG., Screenwerk, MarketingVOX, ReveNews Online Revenue …, Investor Relations Blog, Between the Lines , Web Analysis …



  1. So – I try to vote in the poll, and it tells me I have cookies disabled, so I can’t vote. Some humor in that, but your poll will be hopelessly skewed since – as you write in your post – I’m not inclined to set cookies on just for this!

  2. Oh, that’s truly ironic, and I didn’t think of it, sorry. Although my setting would help, I could approve this specific cookie and not others …

  3. I’ve disallowed cookies in Firefox and use the Permit Cookie add-on, which places a button on the statusbar where I can set cookie permissions on the site that I am. I also use another extension, Cookie Culler, to protect the cookies I want to keep permanently, and delete others every time I close Firefox.

  4. A better answer to blocking cookies is to set them to session cookies only. That way to the site it appears that you accept them (and are a new user). But for privacy nothing remains.

  5. I tried to cast a vote for “who cares, enable them”, but it triggered a message like “cookies disabled”. Gee, I did not even know they were disabled, which sort of proves my point: I do not care!

  6. Sorry I missed this post earlier. I’m here because of your mention of Wikinomics the book. In case you missed it, the concepts of Wikinomics are being translated into real world enterprises. Don Tapscott is working with Steve Papermaster and nGenera to implement the concepts of the book into the Global 2000 companies. Click the link to learn more. Let me know if you would like to talk to Don or Steve.


  1. […] The point (I think) is that a targeted advertising network — based on Facebook’s (presumably) rich database of user profiles and demographic data, combined with the use of cookies that would generate ads even outside of Facebook’s network — could produce a much higher payoff than the site’s current attempts at advertising are doing. I’m not an advertising guy, but I think there is probably a lot to that theory (although there are flaws). […]

  2. […] one tiny little fly in this ointment for either company, and that’s the idea that for some people, such “dirty cookies” are downright creepy from a privacy standpoint.  I have to […]

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