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Study Reveals Misconceptions About Incognito Mode

by Harikrishna Mekala

Researchers at the University of Chicago have found that there are a lot of misconceptions about incognito mode among users. Many users believed that employers or ISPs wouldn’t be able to observe their data and most of them think that browsing in the private mode would protect them from viruses and malware.

The University published their results which included 450 subjects answering the questions about the incognito mode and private mode in browsers. If you don’t know how private or incognito mode works – typically browsers suggest using that option will help you stay anonymous online but that’s not the actual case here. Google Chrome says that it will not collect your browsing history, cookies and site data for more information entered into the forms but it will not hide your history from your ISP or employers.

Here is the list of misconceptions that were noted during the study:

  • “46.5% of subjects ‘thought bookmarks saved in private mode would not continue in later sessions,’ when they actually do.
  • “40.2% of subjects thought websites would not be able to determine a user’s location,” while in private mode. You can make it harder to estimate your location if you use a VPN.
  • “27.1% of subjects considered private mode offered more protection against viruses and malware than standard [mode.]” This is a misconception since any files you download and open on your computer could still be affected with malware or viruses.
  • “22.0%, 37.0%, and 22.6% of participants falsely believed that ISPs, employers, and the government would be unable to track them when they used private mode.” If you’re on someone’s network, chances are they can see what you’re doing.

More than 56.3% of the subjects thought that browsing in private mode would hide your search history but Google will still log the user’s search and also save a copy of that query.

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