Use Steam? Make Sure to Update Your Cookies & Browsing Settings

Learn how to check and update your cookies and browsing settings on Steam.

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This morning I was on Steam trying to figure out how to make my Steam profile private. On my hunt to find the settings page that would allow me to make my profile private, I found a page titled “Cookies & Browsing”. All of the settings on this page were enabled.

I can say with certainty I don’t remember enabling them. I had my colleague check his account, and his too were enabled. It’s important to note that I checked with other colleagues and friends as well, and theirs were disabled.

TLDR: Instructions on how to disable tracking on Steam

Know How You’re Being Tracked

Until now, I never really thought about tracking, analytics, or cookies on Steam. The sad truth is that online tracking has become increasingly common these days. Some of you may have no issue with the type of tracking Steam does, or with cookies. It’s just part of using the internet.

But I think we should be more resistant about giving up our data and privacy so willingly. It should be noted that Steam has had security and privacy issues in the past, so even if you don’t mind the tracking, you should know what tracking cookies Steam is using, and why.

Cookies, Analytics, and Tracking on Steam

Notice how the page says “OPTIONAL COOKIES”? As I mentioned above, I have no idea how these got turned on, and nor do my colleagues. Were these not optional in the past?

Screenshot of Steam's Cookies & Browsing Account Settings.
Steam’s Cookies & Browsing Account Settings.

Here is what Steam lists on their Cookies & Browsing page:

  • Valve’s Content Customization Cookies“recentapps”
    • Used to show game pages you’ve visited and as recommendations.
  • Valve’s Analytics Cookies“app_impressions” and “browserid”
    • Used by Valve to anonymously determine store traffic.
  • Google Analytics Cookies“ga” and “_gid”
    • Uses Google Analytics to track Steam web traffic.
  • Third Party Media Sharing CookiesYouTube, Vimeo, and Sketchfab
    • These are required to embed certain material from third party websites.
  • Technically Necessary Cookies“sessionid”, “shoppingCartGID”, “steamCountry”, “timezoneOffset”, “birthtime”, “lastagecheckage”, “steamLoginSecure”, “steamRememberLogin”, “steamMachineAuth”, “Steam_Language”, and “cookieSettings”
    • These cookies are vital for Steam to function properly and are unable to be disabled through Valve’s controls.
  • Third Party Links (UTM)
    • This data is collected anonymously and helps report back to game developers how web traffic is arriving to their store pages.

Should You Disable Them?

It’s up to you. The point is that this tracking isn’t necessary for these platforms to function. They use this tracking to display relevant advertisements, recommended games, and more. But did you know some of these tracking cookies such as YouTube and Vimeo even follow you across different websites and devices?

There is little to no regulation on user data, especially in the United States. The good news is that some lawmakers are starting to get serious about personal data online such as the California Consumer Privacy Act and the Europe Union’s GDPR. I won’t go into the specifics of them, but generally speaking, they set time and scope limits on what can be tracked and gives the user full control over what information they would like to share. Fortunately, Valve has added toggles for their tracking cookies that you can control. Thanks, Valve!

How To Disable Tracking and Cookies on Steam

Disabling Steam’s user tracking is easy if you know where to look. It varies between web browser and Steam client.

Important: Make sure you’re logged in.

Disable From a Web Browser:

  1. Steam’s website has a list of the cookies they use with controls for approving or denying them here: http://store.steampowered.com/account/cookiepreferences
  2. Disable any and all the tracking your heart desires.

Disable From the Steam Client:

  1. In the top right corner of Steam, click your account name, then “Account details”.
  2. Steam will open up a page about your account. On the left side of this page, click “Cookies & Browsing”
  3. Disable any and all the tracking your heart desires.
Screenshot of Steam Account Menu.
Steam Account Menu.
Screenshot of Steam's Cookies & Browsing Account Settings.
Steam’s Cookies & Browsing Account Settings.

Don’t forget the handy “REJECT ALL” button at the top of the page and the “Third Party Links (UTM)” option at the bottom.

Screenshot of Steam's Third Party Links (UTM) toggle.
Steam’s Third Party Links (UTM) toggle.

Summary

I was a little shocked to discover my settings were enabled, and that Steam uses Google Analytics and other cookies. However, I was pleased to discover it was very easy to disable Steam’s tracking. Steam is and always will be my go-to video game storefront, and the same probably goes for a lot of you as well. For that reason, I wanted to share this knowledge with you in the hopes that it might learn something and/or better protect your privacy and data.

By Dom M.

Dom is the creator of FPS Cat. He has a passion for all things PC gaming, aviation, city builders, and god simulators.

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