Feb 19 Posted 4 years ago
Nice post spoiled, perhaps, by an over-sensationalist headline. Quite a lot has been written by the media on Google's bypass of Safari cookie control. I think it is important to contextualise what happened and why. The Safari browser on mobile phones has a security setting regarding third party cookies which is set by default to 'Never'. This setting is different from the Safari version for desktop browsing. Third party cookies track user behavior across specific networks (usually ad networks) - the moment the user gets outside it the tracking stops. Safari's opaque blocking policy (iPhone owners have to struggle to find the settings) made it impossible for Google to make the +1 button work in ads. So they by-passed the settings. So did: the ad networks of Vibrant Media, Media Innovation Group and PointRoll.
Google's cookie had a life expectancy of between 12-24 hours and it did not track any personal information.
Was it right to by-pass a browser setting (even one which is hostile by default) without more consulation, publicity or information? No. But we, as consumers, expect Google to provide a better and better service in everything at an ever lower cost and the company cannot do this without data. It could perhaps have handled the communication problem better but to say it was 'Evil' is as much of a stretch as the totally misleading and entirely wrong headline used by WSJ which shouted "Google tracks iPhones".
In a social media age where your every post and every comment is going to be accessible to and scrutinised by people who are technically knowledgeable we owe it to ourselves first and our audience second to be a little more accurate with our headlines.
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