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Terminology

Confused by some of the terms used on this site?

Here are some handy definitions if you’re not familiar with the language of the World Wide Web. Parts of these definitions are from Wikipedia and Wiktionary.

Behavioral targeting: A technique used by online publishers and advertisers to increase the effectiveness of their campaigns. Behavioral targeting uses information collected on an individual’s web-browsing behavior, such as the pages they have visited or the searches they have made, to select which advertisements to display to that individual. Companies like Google are starting to use this technique without obtaining their users’ consent first, which many privacy advocates believe is unethical and should be illegal.

Cookie: A packet of information sent by a server (like one of Google’s computers) to a World Wide Web browser (like Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari) and then returned by the browser each time it accesses that server, used to maintain state between otherwise stateless HTTP transactions, for example, to identify the user. A cookie is basically a little file a website places on your computer. That file allows the website to “remember” computers that visit it. Cookies can be used to track you and your surfing habits as you visit web pages. That is why they are a major privacy concern.

JavaScript: A scripting programming language most commonly used to add interactive features to websites. JavaScript is powerful enough to run web-based programs on your computer in the background without you even knowing. To easily block unknown and dangerous scripts from doing whatever they want to your computer, you need a tool such as NoScript for Firefox. Google relies heavily on JavaScript to deliver advertising to other websites in its AdSense network. However, these ads can be safely blocked.