Policies & Safety

Cookies

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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 WordPress.com

Sites hosted on WordPress.com make use of cookies for a variety of different purposes. These include those that are ‘strictly necessary’ for technical reasons; those that enable a personalized experience for visitors and registered users; and those that allow the display of advertising from selected third party networks. Some of these cookies may be set when a page is loaded, or when a visitor takes a particular action, such as clicking the ‘like’ or ‘follow’ button on a post.

Many of the cookies we use are only set if a visitor is a registered WordPress.com user, whilst others are set for all visitors upon certain actions.

Examples of cookies set for both registered and non registered users:

ab – used for AB testing of new features.
akm_mobile – stores whether a user has chosen to view the mobile version of a site.

Examples of cookies set only for registered WordPress.com users:

twostep_auth – set when the user is logged in using two factor authentication. Only set for registered WordPress.com users.
wp-settings-{user_id} – used to persist a user’s wp-admin configuration. Only set for registered WordPress.com users.

Cookies we use

Below is a description of each category of cookies that are in use, along with specific examples (including both those used for registered and non-WordPress.com users).

Strictly Necessary

These are the cookies that are essential for websites on WordPress.com to perform their basic functions. These include those required to allow registered users to authenticate and perform account related functions, as well as to save the contents of virtual ‘carts’ on sites that have an e-commerce functionality.

cookietest – checks if cookies are enabled to provide appropriate user experience.
twostep_auth – set when the user is logged in using two factor authentication.

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Functionality

These cookies are used to store preferences set by users such as account name, language, and location. They are not used to track visitors on sites that are not hosted on WordPress.com.

Examples:

akm_mobile – stores whether a user has chosen to view the mobile version of a site.
botdlang – used to track the language a user has selected to view popular blogs in.
wordpress_logged_in* –
 used to check whether the current visitor is a logged in WordPress.com user.
wp-settings-{user_id} – used to persist a user’s wp-admin configuration.
wp_sharing_{id} – used to track whether or not a user has already performed an action.

Performance

Performance cookies collect information on how users interact with websites hosted on WordPress.com, including what pages are visited most, as well as other analytical data. These details are only used to improve how a website functions.

Examples:

ab – used for AB testing of new features.
nux_flow_name –
identifies which user signup flow was shown to the user.
signup_partner_ref – tracks the source of new user signups.
signup_referrer – tracks the source of new user signups.
tk_ni|tk_ai|tk_qs – collection of internal metrics for user activity, used to improve user experience.

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Advertising/Tracking

These cookies are used to display relevant advertising to visitors on WordPress.com sites, as well as to track the volume of visitors to the WordPress.com network. They track details about visitors such as the number of unique visitors, number of times times particular ads have been displayed, the number of clicks the ads have received, and are also used to measure the effectiveness of ad campaigns by building up user profiles. These are set by Automattic and trusted third party networks, and are generally persistent in nature.

Examples:

ads – tracks if a visitor has clicked an ad before.
wordpress_eli – reduces display of ads for repeat visitors.

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Third Party/Embedded Content

Sites hosted on WordPress.com make use of different third party applications and services to enhance the experience of website visitors. These include social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter (through the use of sharing buttons), or embedded content from Youtube and Vimeo. As a result, cookies may be set by these third parties, and used by them to track your online activity. We have no direct control over the information that is collected by these cookies.

Controlling cookies

Visitors may wish to restrict the use of cookies, or completely prevent them from being set. Most browsers provide for ways to control cookie behaviour such as the length of time they are stored – either through built-in functionality or by utilizing third party plugins.

To find out more on how to manage and delete cookies, visit aboutcookies.org. For more details on advertising cookies, and how to manage them, visit youronlinechoices.eu (EU based), or aboutads.info (US based).

It’s important to note that restricting or disabling the use of cookies can limit the functionality of sites, or prevent them from working correctly at all.

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