Why you should delete cookies before signing in to Google or Facebook

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 23, 2014
Updated • Aug 16, 2019

Whenever you use Google or Facebook without being logged in to an account, a cookie is saved to the local system.

It is anonymous at this point in time even though it reveals information about your browsing habits to the company that set it.

Google for instance knows that you have searched for this and that but cannot link the information to you as a person.  The company even states that it uses anonymous identifiers in its privacy policy.

When you’re not signed in to a Google Account, we store the information we collect with unique identifiers tied to the browser, application, or device you’re using.

The same is true for Facebook which may notice that you visit sites that display Facebook widgets or pages on Facebook, but cannot link that to an account on the site.

If you decide to sign in to an account afterwards, all previous activity linked to the "anonymous you" is now linked to the user account. This is the case because the same root domain cookie is being used by Google and Facebook to track anonymous and logged in users.

So, these companies know all sites that you have visited in the past if connections to Google or Facebook owned servers were made on those sites. The same is true if you sign out of an account and visit sites afterwards that use these contents as well.

Google may know that you visited that NSFW website even if you made sure you did not search for it directly and signed out of your Google account prior to accessing it. The same is true for Facebook as long as sites you visit load widgets, apis or other elements from Google or Facebook domains.

This means, basically, that the data that these companies collect about you is only anonymous if you never sign in to an account on these sites, block third-party requests from these companies by default, or delete cookies regularly and especially before signing in or after signing out of an account.

The first option sounds easy enough. You may use two different browsers for that for example, or use private browsing mode and regular mode using a single browser.

The blocking of third-party requests can be blocked through the use of add-ons like uBlock Origin,  NoScript for Firefox or Scriptsafe for Chrome to name three options.

The deletion of cookies requires extensions as well. While you can configure web browsers to delete cookies on exit automatically or manually, it won't help you during browsing sessions.

A browser extension like Self-Destructing Cookies can be used to delete cookies as soon as you leave the site they have been set on. It supports a whitelist to protect some cookies from being cleared by the extension.

Tip: You can list all cookies a site saved on connect by pressing F12 in your browser of choice and switching to the storage tab of the Developer Tools interface that opens up. There you should find a list of cookies saved by the domain and third-party sites.

Please note that this is true for other companies and services as well but more often than not to a lesser degree considering the popularity of Google and Facebook on the Internet.

Why you should delete cookies before signing in to Google or Facebook
Article Name
Why you should delete cookies before signing in to Google or Facebook
Google, Facebook and other companies may be able to link anonymous usage data to your account if you sign in to an account regularly without clearing cookies.
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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between name.com domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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