What is Chrome’s incognito mode and why Google workers compare it to The Simpsons

The famous scene of Homer Simpson saying that it is not him, but Cosme Fulanito, was used by the same Google workers to describe how the “incognito mode” of the Chrome browser works. The company’s collaborators say that this option should be changed, because people think that it is much more private than it really is.

A lawsuit against Googlerevealed that in a group of company workers, he accused them of cheating users with the so-called Incognito Mode of your browser (Google Chrome)since it only hides the browsing history, but not other data such as geolocation or data used to present ads.

For its part, the company defends itself by saying that when this tab is opened, users are informed which records are saved and which are not.

What is Google Chrome Incognito Mode?

The privacy offered by the Incognito mode of Google Chrome It 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 Google’s explanations about what it does and what it does not.

Chrome’s incognito mode allows users to browse privately, that is, it prevents the browser from saving the history of their online activity on the device they use. An example of this are the ‘cookies’, the data of the websites that are visited or the information entered in forms.

However, it seems that this mode is not as private as it should be, according to a class action lawsuit against the company filed in California (United States).

Among the evidence, a series of internal documents were presented, including a circular from Google’s chief marketing officer, Lorraine Twohill, addressed to Alphabet’s president, Sundar Pichai.

Google workers ask to change the Incognito Mode

In the circular, Twohill urges Pichai to “make the incognito mode be really private”, because that lack of privacy limited the promotion of the mode and forced to resort to a type of confusing language that could even be harmful.

This circular was accompanied by the transcript of a 2018 chat in which Chrome engineers were talking about Incognito mode following research that pointed out that people had misunderstood what it really means.

“We need to stop calling it Incognito and stop using a Spy Guy icon,” 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 It should always have been The Simpsons, which accurately conveys the level of privacy it provides.”

GoogleChrome | The Simpsons

Belief about private browsing

Incognito mode is not exclusive to Google Chrome, since it is present in other browsers in which the name by which it is known may vary. But according to a 2018 study conducted by researchers at the universities of Chicago (United States) and Hannover (Germany), users are not clear about what this type of navigation actually does.

Specifically, they collect beliefs such as that it prevents geolocation, advertisements, viruses and the tracking of both the websites that are visited and Internet providers. And these misconceptions are usually related to the meaning that users give to the word privacy that accompanies the type of navigation.

In that sense, Google defends itself and says that it warns of this when opening the incognito modewith a warning that indicates what it does and what it does not, and that there is a link to “More information”, which makes it clear that information is still being collected in this mode, just like the normal browsing mode.

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