Social Media and Cookies Challenges for Online Privacy

Social Media and Cookies Challenges for Online Privacy

Written by Deepak Bhagat, In Technology, Published On
May 24, 2021

The advent of social media enabled a new kind of communication known as mass communication. With new forms of communication empowering the users – we need to understand how mass communication is enabling a new form of vulnerability. Users across the globe have given their opinion on how to manage their online world effectively without privacy concerns.

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

Even before you think of what is happening in online space – 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. However, several people claim that – marketers should not target the customers because just he/she has shown interest in a product/service.

It is a kind of security breach – where the majority of the sites don’t ask for permission to store cookies in the user’s browser. Most importantly, they do not issue any privacy statement 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 that get added to the user’s browser 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 and changes the way the user interacts on social platforms.

However, they do not allow marketers to gain access to social media accounts but provide them with Adverts and information that are relevant to them. 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 the ads based on user preference. On Facebook, users will see that the ads may be delivered according to their interest or specific advertisers.

Challenges with social media cookies

The Internet has made data access at fingertips. Because of which privacy violation has become a common issue on social media sites. Facebook is one of the biggest social media platforms with 800 million users from around the world.

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

Social media platforms use two types of cookies –

  1. Inserted in the browser when signing up

  2. Inserted in the browser when the user lands on the Home Page but does not log in or signup.

The cookies on Facebook or other social media platforms records several bits of information such as – name, email id, password, etc. It also uses a different type of cookies that record the date, time, and sites you have visited. With these cookies, Facebook understands user behavior like – interest, demographics, political leanings, and many other things.

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

Well, the main objective of social media cookies is to help identify spammers, hackers, and cybercriminals behind unauthorized login attempts. Also, the cookies disable the registration of minors and even help users access their accounts that were hacked by hackers.

When it comes to privacy and security, Facebook and other social media platforms deny that they use logged-off cookies and sell them to third parties. The cookies are only used to improve the service, personalize the use of the site, and keep security at the highest level. Additionally, the data older than 90 days is automatically deleted.

Users can disable the cookies on the browser permanently – if they don’t want to be tracked. One can use add-ons and plug-ins that block unauthorized or harmful cookies.

How to protect online privacy on social media?

Well, each user is in charge of his/her privacy on social media. Social media platforms claim that the 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

Go through the privacy policy and terms of usage before you sign into any social media platform and activate your account. Pay attention to the registering conditions on the social media platform.


Familiarize yourself with the functionality of the social media site 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.

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 amount of information that can be 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 precaution to secure privacy and overcome cookies challenges. You need to keep yourself updated with the latest cookie policies, terms, and conditions.

By following the above Online Privacy Safety Tips – you can draw the privacy shades to the appropriate level. If you are worried about managing your online privacy, you should think about installing Norton Internet Security that offers multiple layers of data protection.


Besides, there are other options to protect your online privacy such as – using a secure VPN, good cyber hygiene, stronger passwords, and a trusted antivirus program.

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