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Private web browsing doesn’t mean no one is watching

Many people misunderstand incognito mode, and web browsers don’t offer clear explanations

By
3:30pm, April 24, 2018
laptop computer

PARTIAL PRIVACY When you set your web browser to incognito, you’re probably not going as deep undercover as you think.

Take a quiz on web privacy

Private web browsing isn’t nearly as private as many people think.

Major web browsers, such as Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari, offer a private browsing option, sometimes known as “incognito.” The option allows people to surf the internet through a private window that doesn’t log activity into the browser’s history or influence future autofill recommendations. As such, incognito mode can hide one’s activity from others sharing the same device.

But many believe incorrectly that the privacy setting offers broader protections — even after they’ve read a web browser’s explanation of incognito mode.

In a new study, 460 people were asked to read one web browser’s description of private browsing, and then answer questions about their privacy expectations while using the tool.

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