As far as the greatest fears of anyone living in the 21st Century go, having a stranger find out your internet search history has to be in at least the top five.
That being the case, you might want to give a watch to a viral video appearing on folks’ For You pages lately—and lock down your browser history before hooking into a friend’s Wi-Fi network.
TikToker Mark Roberts says he was flabbergasted during a group video game session when he discovered how much he had in common with his friend’s roommate. The roommate kept casually bringing up topics that Roberts had been thinking about or Googling in the days prior, the TikToker says.
Roberts documented his story in a video posted on Tuesday. The account has already received a staggering 3.5 million views so far.
“Why did no one tell me that you can access somebody’s internet search history through the Wi-Fi ?” a shaken Roberts asks his viewers at the beginning of his video.
He goes on to describe going to his friend’s place for a video game session. He then talks about meeting his friend’s roommate, who he did not know very well. He says he was startled to find out how many things they had in common.
“I thought this was my new best friend,” Roberts admits.
He says the roommate mentioned going to a movie Roberts had recently seen himself. Then, he brought up a town in France that Roberts wanted to go to on vacation. According to Roberts, things began to get strange when the roommate began to talk about a meal they recently had that was identical to the one Roberts had the night before.
Roberts says the conversation went from unlikely to eerie when the roommate identified his car model without Roberts himself bringing it up.
“For some reason, the first thought in the brain was that this guy was magic,” he says.
But, Roberts adds, the reality was that the roommate had all the facts about his social plans, travel plans, and even the type of car he drove once Roberts logged into the household Wi-Fi.
Roberts says his friend revealed the roommate’s prank. “He can’t read minds,” he reportedly told Roberts. “It’s just a weird bit he does. He can check your search history through the Wi-Fi network.”
Roberts says he was “out of there” soon afterward. Looking at his phone, he saw that all of the topics he had “in common” with the roommate were open tabs on his phone.
He confessed that “there were tabs open that we didn’t talk about that I hope are never talked about.”
let this be your reminder to comstantly check your internet search history and close ALL your tabs♬ original sound – Mark Roberts
Plenty of Roberts’ viewers could relate to the nightmarish situation.
“I am never using anyone’s wifi again,” wrote Jay (@chlosprices)
Another viewer said, “I would actually cease to exist if my family saw my search history.”
“This feels like going through someone’s dairy. Like how can you do this,” another asked.
Another viewer admitted that “this information will have disastrous consequences on my mental health.”
In the video caption, Roberts advises viewers to “constantly check your internet search history and close ALL your tabs.”
According to ProtonVPN, a virtual private network (VPN) service, any user who can access the Wi-Fi router can use it to check a user’s internet history.
“Anyone with direct access to a router — usually its owner (or manager in commercial or educational contexts), but potentially also a hacker who has managed to compromise the router in some way — can see and log: Your entire browsing history while connected to the router, How long you spend on each website, The exact time you connect to a website, The total time you are online, Your device’s MAC address,” the site states.
And, yes, that includes public Wi-Fi.
There are a few things users can do to protect themselves from security threats (not to mention snoopy roommates.) These include clearing your cookies and browser history before joining a network, using your browser’s incognito mode, and installing and using a VPN.
In response to a request from The Daily Dot for further comment, Roberts wrote, “I just think that the internet offers this illusion of privacy where we think we are completely anonymous but in reality, we are being watched.”