FAQ: Chrome 80 browser update and Chartbeat

On Feb. 4, Google will release the new Chrome 80 browser update that enhances user security and privacy through a new SameSite cookie classification system.

Below, we wanted to address your questions on how this update will impact both Chartbeat’s engagement tracking on your site, and your use of Chartbeat tools.

If you’d like to skip ahead to learn more about the update’s affect on our Heads Up Display, click here.

What is the Chrome 80 browser update?

The Chrome 80 browser update will release, for the first time, a “secure-by-default” model for cookies, changing the default behavior of cross-domain (third-party) cookies. Here’s what that means:

A quick primer on cross-domain cookies

This class of cookies lets websites access information stored in cookies associated with a domain that is different than the domain in your address bar. For example, services on a.com can access data stored on a cookie for b.com.

Prior to Chrome 80, when a developer set a cookie, they could choose to secure it so that it could not be accessed by external sites — in other words, a first-party cookie. However, this setting was optional, and the default was to set third-party cookies.

Chrome 80 has updated the default setting of cookies so that cookies are treated as first-party unless the SameSite setting is explicitly specified and the cookie is secured, meaning it can only be accessed over secure web connections (HTTPS).

More information on SameSite cookies can be found here.

Will Chartbeat data be affected?

No. Chartbeat’s engagement tracking will not be impacted by the Chrome 80 browser updates, as a result, none of your Chartbeat data should be affected by this change.

Why not?

The Chartbeat engagement tracking script that you place on your website has always been configured to only set first-party cookies for visitors to your website. Since this is a first-party cookie to your website, the Chrome 80 change does not affect how this cookie is handled.

One slight modification has been made to Chartbeat’s tracker in light of these browser updates. To remain compliant with this change, we have updated how our tracker handles global opt-out cookies. This cookie is set by Chartbeat when a visitor opts out of any form of tracking across all Chartbeat client sites. Since this cookie is stored and accessed as a third-party cookie, we have updated our trackers so we can properly access this preference.

How will my use of Chartbeat’s product be impacted?

The only Chartbeat feature that could be affected by this change is the Heads Up Display. The Heads Up Display checks that you are logged in to Chartbeat when you load the tool, using a third-party session cookie that was set when you signed in to chartbeat.com.

We have updated the login flow on chartbeat.com to ensure that session cookies comply with all changes made in Chrome 80. For these changes to take effect on your browser, you will need to sign out and then sign back in to Chartbeat so we can set a new, secure session cookie.

If you see the following message when you try to load the Heads Up Display, simply visit https://chartbeat.com/logout to log out of your current session. Once you log back in to Chartbeat, simply refresh the tab in which you are attempting to load the Heads Up Display.

Who can I contact for further questions?

Please don’t hesitate to direct further questions to your account representative or support@chartbeat.com.

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