The privacy offered by Chrome’s Incognito mode is not clear to users, who come to overestimate it, but it is also the subject of jokes among the company’s own engineers, despite explanations from Google about what it does and what it doesn’t.
The incognito mode of Chrome allows users to browse privately, that is, it prevents the browser from saving the history of their online activity on the device they use, the ‘cookies’, the data of the websites that are visited or the information entered in forms.
However, it seems that this mode is not all that private which should be, according to what emerges from a class action lawsuit against the company filed in California (United States), which among the evidence presents a series of internal documents, including a circular from Google’s Marketing Manager, Lorraine Twohill, addressed to the president by Alphabet, Sundar Pichai, published in Bloomberg.
In said circular, Twohill urges Pichai to “make Incognito mode really private”, because that lack of privacy it limited the promotion of the mode and forced to resort to a type of confusing language that could even be harmful.
This circular has been accompanied by the transcript of a chat from 2018 in which the engineers of Chrome They were talking about Incognito mode as a result of a research which pointed out that people had misunderstood what it really means.
“We need to stop calling it Incognito and stop using an icon of spy-guy“Says one of the employees in the chat, referring to the icon of the hat with glasses that characterizes it. Another provided a link to the incognito guy from the Simpsons series, who bears a great physical similarity to Homer except for the mustaches and the top hat and the accent.
Regarding this character, the other employee said that “regardless of the name, the Incognito icon should always have been [el tipo de incógnito de Los Simpson]Which also accurately conveys the level of privacy it provides.”
Incognito mode is not exclusive to Chrome, as it is present in other browsers in which the name by which it is known may vary. But according to a 2018 study by researchers at the universities of Chicago (United States) and Hannover (Germany) found that users they were not clear about what this type of navigation actually does.
Specifically, they include beliefs such as that it prevents geolocationadvertisements, virus and the tracking of both the websites that are visited and the Internet providers. And these misconceptions are usually related to the meaning that users give to the word privacy that accompanies the type of navigation.