Social Media and Cookies Challenges for Online Privacy

Social Media and Cookies Challenges for Online Privacy

Written by Deepak Bhagat, In Technology, Updated On
April 13th, 2024

Social media enabled a new kind of communication known as mass communication. With new forms of communication empowering users, we need to understand how mass communication enables a new form of vulnerability. Users across the globe have given their opinions on how to manage their online world effectively without privacy concerns.

Policymakers, consumer advocates, and marketers have criticized the use of internet cookies by visited websites as a potential threat. Privacy has become a significant concern for individuals, professionals, enterprises, government organizations, etc.

Even before you think of what is happening online, you are invaded by cookies that send specific information related to your interests.

Although it has been argued that it is a kind of marketing strategy that gives customers what they want, several people claim that marketers should not target customers because they have just shown interest in a product/service.

It is a kind of security breach, as the majority of sites don’t ask for permission to store cookies in the user’s browser. Most importantly, they do not issue any privacy statement stating that their information is used for targeted marketing.

Before we get into details about online privacy challenges – let’s understand a few things about social media cookies and how they are used!

What are social media cookies?

Social media cookies are tiny snippets of data added to users’ browsers when they visit social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram. The snippet is stored in the user’s browser for a certain period, changing how the user interacts on social platforms.

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However, they do not allow marketers to gain access to social media accounts; instead, they provide them with advertisements and relevant information. They are used for multiple activities, from displaying personalized ads to measuring the effectiveness of targeted ads.

For instance, users can always control how Facebook uses the data to show ads based on user preference. On Facebook, users will see that the ads may be delivered according to their interests or specific advertisers.

Challenges with social media cookies

The Internet has made data accessible at their fingertips, so privacy violations have become a common issue on social media sites. Facebook is one of the biggest social media platforms, with 800 million users worldwide.

Like any other website, Facebook also utilizes cookies to understand user behavior using Facebook cookies. However, the problem is that the Facebook cookies are not deleted even after the user signs out of their account.

Social media platforms use two types of cookies –

  1. Inserted in the browser when signing up

  2. They are inserted in the browser when the user lands on the Home Page but does not log in or sign up.

Facebook or other social media platforms use cookies to record information such as name, email ID, password, etc. They also use different cookies that record the date, time, and sites you have visited. With these cookies, Facebook understands user behavior, such as interest, demographics, political leanings, etc.

Now, the question is, do social media platforms cross the line between privacy infringement and targeted advertising?

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The main objective of social media cookies is to help identify spammers, hackers, and cybercriminals behind unauthorized login attempts. Also, the cookies turn off the registration of minors and even allow users to access their accounts that hackers hacked.

Regarding privacy and security, Facebook and other social media platforms deny using logged-off cookies and sell them to third parties. Cookies are only used to improve the service, personalize the site’s use, and maintain security at the highest level. Additionally, data older than 90 days is automatically deleted.

If users don’t want to be tracked, they can permanently disable cookies on their browser or use add-ons and plug-ins that block unauthorized or harmful cookies.

How do we protect online privacy on social media?

Each user is in charge of their privacy on social media. Social media platforms claim that users can move their social media privacy from weak to strong and protect online information. However, the truth is that it is impossible to protect social media privacy. Before you share anything on social media, it is a must to protect your online privacy. Here are the Online Privacy Safety Tips that make your social media experience more rewarding.

Know the privacy terms.

Before you sign into any social media platform and activate your account, read the privacy policy and terms of usage. Also, pay attention to the registration conditions on the platform.


Familiarize yourself with the social media site’s functionality before you start sharing messages. You should know who is seeing your messages and whether all the users on the platform have access to those messages.

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Default privacy settings

Every social media platform has default privacy settings that allow users to share their information with other users. Adjust the default privacy settings to limit the details shared with other users. You can even turn off the location from your gadget with a few changes in the privacy settings. These tips make your social media account more private and

Bottom Line

Due to the lack of privacy on social media, you need to be very careful and take the necessary precautions to secure privacy and overcome cookie challenges. You also need to keep yourself updated with the latest cookie policies, terms, and conditions.

By following the above Online Privacy Safety Tips, you can adjust your privacy settings to the appropriate level. If you are worried about managing your online privacy, you should consider installing Norton Internet Security, which offers multiple layers of data protection.

Besides, other options to protect your online privacy include using a secure VPN, good cyber hygiene, stronger passwords, and a trusted antivirus program.

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