google-just-killed-cookies-for-a-fraction-of-users,-but-you-can-kill-yours-right-now

Google Just Killed Cookies For A Fraction Of Users, But You Can Kill Yours Right Now

Google’s cookiepocalypse has begun, but so far only one percent of Chrome users have been raptured away to privacy heaven. 

Google announced its plan to stop supporting third-party cookies back in 2020. In the years since, EU and UK regulators intervened to prevent Google from killing them too quickly on the basis that the plan would be unfair to Google’s competitors. Thanks to the slow rollout, it may have seemed like annoying cookie consent pop-ups would be a permanent feature of life on planet Earth.

But the day has arrived: Google disabled cookie support for about one percent of Chrome users on Thursday according to the Wall Street Journal — which is about 30 million people. If you weren’t included in the party on day one, your invitation will arrive sometime in the coming months. Are you patient enough to wait?

Why is Google killing cookies?Cookies, as you’re probably aware, are small chunks of data stored on users’ devices by the websites they visit, and in theory they’re used to make things more convenient — storing logins and other useful information like website preferences so that they’ll be there on every subsequent visit. But cookies are more famous for their spying activities. They can track users’ consumption and personal habits to compile detailed and sometimes profoundly invasive user profiles. Companies profit from the sale of that information, and it can then spread well beyond users’ control.

As cookies taper off, Google hopes to scale up a new project it calls the “Privacy Sandbox initiative.” This effort is aimed at creating a new system for ad customization that doesn’t involve everyone vaguely consenting to mysterious data tracking tools, while nonetheless keeping “online content and services free for all,” according to Google’s Privacy Sandbox info page. 

How can I tell if Google has killed cookies for me?If you’re already included in the cookie-killing rollout, then when you update to version 115, you’ll get a popup with the title “Enhanced ad privacy in Chrome.” Last year, there were already whispers about this popup materializing, but millions of users started seeing it yesterday as cookies started being scaled down. 

This popup marks the beginning of the transition from cookies to the Privacy Sandbox, and the most crucial part of this rollout from Google’s standpoint will be shepherding users into the new “Ad Topics” API feature, because in essence, that’s the cookie replacer. Rather than tracking users personally, Ad Topics sorts users into categories based on their interests and presents catered ad experiences based on these myriad overlapping categories — all through data that’s stored on the user’s device, and theoretically never ends up in the hands of mysterious ne’er-do-wells.  

The rollout has already been a bit bumpy. Last year, when the “Enhanced ad privacy in Chrome” popup started showing up, at least 116 enterprise Chrome professionals complained that if users didn’t consent to join Ad Topics, they’d be shown the popup every time they opened Chrome.

How to kill cookies in Google ChromeAll Chrome users are supposed to have had their cookie’s killed by the end of 2024, but if you’re antsy, and just can’t wait to stop having your activities tracked, you can kill them right now.

What You Need

Google Chrome Step 1: Go to the menu in the top-left corner of Chrome and click ‘Preferences.’

This will launch your settings and preferences menu.

Credit: Screengrab from Chrome

Step 2: Click the ‘Privacy and Security’ tab on the left side.

This brings up a bunch of little menu bars.

Credit: Screengrab from Chrome

Step 3: Click to expand the ‘Third-party cookies’ bar.

By default it will say third-party cookies are allowed.

Credit: Screengrab from Chrome

Step 4: Click the bubble that says ‘Block third-party cookies.’

…and you’ve just killed cookies.

Credit: Screengrab from Chrome

You may now run into issues like sites not storing your login, or customization settings not being retained each time you visit a site, but if you value privacy over convenience these are decent trade-offs, right?