The Hidden Truth Behind Google’s Incognito Mode

Incognito mode may not be so incognito after all.

incognito windowvia Google Chrome

Most people go into "Incognito Mode" on their Google Chrome browser when they want to keep their web browsing history and cookies (small files about you, not the snack) a secret from others using the same device. But a new study from Vanderbilt University revealed that Google can still identify you—even when you're "incognito."

The study analyzed how Google collected data across an array of devices such as Androids and Chromebooks and services like YouTube or Google. The authors discovered that Google can still link your identity to the websites you browsed despite being undercover in Incognito Mode. These are the other creepy things Google already knows about you.

Each time you enter Incognito Mode, a message pops up on the screen that states, "Now you can browse privately, and other people who use this device won't see your activity." While it specifies that Chrome doesn't save your browsing history, cookies, and information you enter into forms while incognito, it does warn you that your activity may still be visible to the websites you visit, internet service providers, and the school or employer that controls the network. What's more, the study results showed that "a person's web activity on sites that run ads from Google's online ad marketplace can be connected through the anonymized cookies to their YouTube, Gmail, or other Google account," the Independent reports.

Luckily, there's a way you can bypass these identifiers and still remain covert: Do not log into your Google accounts while you're browsing in Incognito Mode. If you do sign into one of your Google accounts while digitally incognito, Google can retroactively link your personal account information to your private browsing history. Here are 10 more ways you can protect yourself from online scams.

This new discovery puts Google back on the hot seat again amidst a lawsuit that claims that Google has violated people's privacy by continuing to track their real-world movements even if their "location history" feature is turned off on their device. In short, when it comes to Internet privacy and security, even Incognito Mode can still leave your identity vulnerable to exposure. Of course, we can't entirely blame Google. After all, Google isn't the only company that is compromising your online privacy.

[Sources: New York Post and]

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