How ads follow you around the internet

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Hint: It’s why every site asks you to accept cookies.

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You’ve seen the pop-ups: “This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Please accept cookies.”

Cookies do improve your experience. They function as the website’s short term memory; with each new click you make, cookies help the site identify you as the same person. Imagine every time you add something to your cart and click away, it disappears. Or each time you load a new page on Facebook, you have to log in again. Without cookies, the online world we know today couldn’t exist.

But that world relies on advertising, which gives three kinds of companies a strong incentive to track your online behavior. Brands want to sell products by serving you ads for things you’re likely to buy. Platforms and publishers — like Vox — want to make money by serving those ads when you’re on their site. And middlemen are in the business of ensuring the ads from the brands are delivered to the right people.

In this video, we explain how cookies work and what you should know about how they’re being used. And we get a little help from the man who invented them.

Open Sourced is a year-long reporting project from Recode by Vox that goes deep into the closed ecosystems of data, privacy, algorithms, and artificial intelligence. Learn more at

This project is made possible by the Omidyar Network. All Open Sourced content is editorially independent and produced by our journalists.

Watch all episodes of Open Sourced right here on YouTube:

Become a part of the Open Sourced Reporting Network and help our reporting. Join here:

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Cleo Abram says:

Facebook now gives you the ability to see some of the data they’re currently collecting about your behavior off Facebook. Some big caveats: It doesn’t include your activity over the last few days, it will only show you up to 180 days ago, and it doesn’t include data Facebook gets when you’re not logged in.

My list showed me 199 apps and websites that have shared my activity with Facebook.

Here’s a direct link if you want to check yours — but, heads up, this will require a Facebook login, which may help it sync up still more information about you from your current browser:

Enrico Iraldo says:

I find ads so terribly obnoxious and that’s why I remove any personalization, reject all the cookies I can, and report every ad I see

ikey shuster says:

Keep up the politic neutral content 🙌🏻

Naapuris kissa says:

ahahhaa got a add

Terrific Tape says:

That's is why you use a different internet browser.

Evelyn Wagner says:

The imported gate oceanographically wait because rail exemplarily march abaft a soft belief. zealous, industrious michael

Mary Stewart says:

Advertising follows us through life

X Techno Pro says:

This is not any sort of problem
You can use private mode that exists in all browsers which deletes cookies after you close any page

Siddharth Vaz says:

Every tech video has the same underlying message. Tech giants like FB, google etc. are tracking you to allow advertisers to target you. So what? Why is advertising based on your searches bad, I mean I understand the privacy angle, but it doesn't compel you to buy & it doesn't showcase random products? If so many people have problems with social media, why do they continue having fb & other accounts?

Evangeline Stewart says:

Where to hide from it advertising everywhere?)

Fares AlShaibani says:

why is this my home thing in chrome

Snodge Kat says:

Still waiting for thousands of cookies to come in the mail for me 🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪

Knight_MC says:

why is this video my home thingy on chrome

Tristan Ray Lavalle says:

I bet the creator drank lots of milk when he was a kid..

Jaxon McLean says:

Anyone else here for an english assignment?

mike123 says:

Google: "I fear no man"
"But that thing"
Adblock Plus
"It scares me"

Hero Czarnik says:

why did the intro song sound like something that would be on the wii u home menu

勇樹 says:

Laughs in Adblock

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