What are cookies?

Cookies are small pieces of data, stored in text files, that are stored on your computer or other device when websites are loaded in a browser. They are widely used to 'remember' you and your preferences, either for a single visit (through a 'session cookie') or for multiple repeat visits (using a 'persistent cookie'). They ensure a consistent and efficient experience for visitors, and perform essential functions such as allowing users to register and remain logged in. Cookies may be set by the site that you are visiting (known as 'first party cookies'), or by other websites who serve up content on that site ('third party cookies').

Cookies and makes use of cookies (session and persistant) for a variety of different purposes. These include those that are necessary for technical reasons, and those that enable a personalized experience for visitors and registered users. Certain third party services used by may also attempt to set third party cookies. These include cookies set by advertisers, analytics services, and social networking sites and services.

Some of these cookies may be set or updated when a page is loaded, or when a visitor takes a particular action, such as clicking the 'like' or 'follow' button on a post. Some cookies are only set if a visitor is a registered user, while others are set for all visitors upon certain actions.

Web beacons and other tracking technologies

Both websites and HTML emails may also contain other tracking technologies such as 'web beacons'. These are typically small transparent images that provide us with statistics, for similar purposes as cookies. They are often used in conjunction with cookies, though they are not stored on your computer in the same way. As a result, if you disable cookies, the web beacons may still load, but their functionality will be restricted.