Google Engineers joked that Incognito mode isn’t so stealthy

Google Engineers joked that Incognito mode isn't so stealthy
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“We need to stop calling him Undercover and stop using the Spy Guy symbol.”

I spy

Google is in a hub bad fightIt claims the Silicon Valley giant misled the public about how much data it collected from users, even when the Chrome browser was in “Incognito” private browsing mode. And while those allegations are concerning, one of the most striking details to emerge from the lawsuit is the potentially compromising jokes Google employees made about it.

But what emerged in court was a very serious email sent by Google’s marketing chief, Lorraine Twohill, to CEO Sundar Pichai.

“Make incognito really private,” Twohill wrote in an email last year quoted by Bloomberg. “We’re limited in how strongly we can market Incognito because it’s not really personal, so it requires really fuzzy language that almost hurts more.”

Jokes Don’t Lie

The email, along with many other communications, was revealed in court documents from the pending trial. Many of them indicate that Google’s engineering grunts thought the company’s external position on Anonymous mode was suspicious and misleading.

“We should stop calling it Incognito and stop using the Spy Boy icon,” a Chrome engineer wrote in a 2018 group chat with colleagues after sharing research showing users were misunderstanding Incognito’s limited privacy. silhouette of a cartoon spy wearing sunglasses and a fedora.

Another engineer responded by linking to a wiki page for a character from “The Simpsons.” Guy Incognitolooks exactly like Homer Simpson – if he was wearing an evil mask.

“Regardless of the name,” the employee continued, “the Incognito icon was always meant to be [Guy Incognito]… which accurately conveys the level of privacy it provides.”


Not all, thankfully. It’s a pretty damning and funny insight into how much Google believes in the privacy of its own employees’ browsing mode, which is not much.

Google, in its defense, claims that it has made it clear to users that Incognito mode is not completely private and that its users have already consented to having their data tracked by the company. The test doesn’t have a set date yet, but it could potentially expose data that Google stores in Anonymous mode. It will be interesting to watch the game.

Read more: Google’s “Incognito” mode inspires employee pranks — and a big lawsuit

More: Google isn’t releasing new video-generating AI due to a minor issue with Gore, Porn and Racism

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