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Google was caught with their hand in the cookie jar, raising a lot of ruckus concerning privacy on the internet. Google claims it sidestepped privacy settings in an attempt to make its “+1” Google+ system work across different browsers. The part where it gets hairy is that the cookies it saved to mark the click could also be seen by their ad agency, DoubleClick, which they can use to track what pages you go to. The research paper that detailed the methods and code behind this practice also found dozens other companies doing the same thing.

There have been a lot of claims and blame going around. Curious about what it all means? We’ll try and break it down for you. Cookies were meant as a way for websites to save a bit of info on a user’s computer to store user preferences and login session data when you log into a site. It can also use this info to see what pages on their site you’re going to. Enter advertising agencies to the fray. This is the source of so called third-party cookies. Ad agencies can save a cookie to your computer so they can see each time you open a page they host ads for. They use this data to try and target ads based on your web activity. Ever noticed an ad for something you’ve recently searched for on a completely unrelated site?