Man explains why Google Incognito doesn’t really hide what you’re doing

@thunder_keck/TikTok Funstock/ShutterStock (Licensed)

‘Least shocking reveal of all time’: Man explains why Google Incognito doesn’t really hide what you’re doing

'Or maybe stop looking up weird things in the first place.'


Phil West


Posted on Jan 29, 2024   Updated on Jan 29, 2024, 12:55 pm CST

You might think that Google Incognito gives you cover in your online search, but as a man discussing a recent lawsuit noted, “In the least shocking reveal of all time, it was proven that it’s really not that private. They’re still tracking you and selling your data.”

The video explainer, from TikTok creator Thunder Keck (@thunder_keck), has attracted more than 433,000 views since going up Jan. 18.

The case he’s alluding to is a class action lawsuit that Google agreed to settle late last month. According to a Dec. 30 NPR article, “Google has agreed to settle a $5 billion privacy lawsuit alleging that it spied on people who used the ‘incognito’ mode in its Chrome browser — along with similar ‘private’ modes in other browsers — to track their internet use.”

The class action lawsuit was filed in 2020, the article went on to say, with the final settlement amount to be decided on Feb. 24. The lawsuit contended, “Google misled users into believing that it wouldn’t track their internet activities while using incognito mode. It argued that Google’s advertising technologies and other techniques continued to catalog details of users’ site visits and activities despite their use of supposedly ‘private’ browsing.”

Thunder Keck noted in his video, “Incognito mode and private browsing on Safari is basically the same as clearing your history.” He notes that Apple and Google can still track your online activity, and if you have a tool like Wireshark, you can see what’s happening on a given network.

“Even if you’re using a VPN,” he warns, “it will still deliver your packets and use fingerprinting to figure out what sites you’re visiting. And that’s getting way easier with AI.”


google is always watching

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Viewers shared their thoughts in the comments section.

“Before i die i wanna delete my search history first,” one offered.

Another wondered, “So just use duckduckgo? Or is that also bad?”

Someone else counseled, “That’s bad also, use Brave.”

Another user chimed in with, “Or maybe stop looking up weird things in the first place.”

One commenter noted, regarding the lawsuit’s allegations about Google asserting privacy for users, “They never claimed it was,” before adding, “What the actual disclaimer for incognito mode says is that it won’t put whatever you look at in your history. That’s all.”

The creator responded, “I guess for a period of time it was slightly different and the court thought it was misleading.”

The Daily Dot has reached out to both the creator and to Google via email.

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*First Published: Jan 29, 2024, 8:00 pm CST