YouTube's New Incognito Mode Isn't Very Incognito

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Google recently rolled a new Incognito Mode feature for YouTube. For the first time, users on the platform will be able to watch videos without their viewing history being tracked in their watch or search history. It's a nice feature for people who don't want their viewing history to be viewable by, say, family members.

However, YouTube Incognito Mode - like Google Incognito Mode - doesn't provide much privacy protection beyond covering tracks from someone who has physical access to a user's YouTube account. Viewing activity is still tracked by Google. It's also available to the user's internet provider. And some might find that their employer or school also has access to their viewing history, depending on the software they use.

The problem with "incognito mode," whether it's on Google or YouTube or many other services, is that it gives users a false sense of privacy. Uninformed consumers may believe that they're safe from the eyes of their employers, for example, or that their ISP doesn't have a record of what they're doing. While some people may be fine with those entities tracking their viewing history, others may make choices that they wouldn't otherwise, had they known the truth about incognito or "private" mode.

At best, incognito mode provides a modicum of privacy from people who have access to the same devices and/or accounts as the primary user. At worst, it creates a false sense of security that can potentially lead to a student getting in trouble in school or even an employee losing their job. While it's not exactly false advertising (YouTube Incognito Mode does offer a pop-up explaining its limitations when you first open it) it walks on the edge of properly informing users of what they're getting into. And it allows big tech companies like Google to continue tracking user data, even when users might erroneously believe that they're no longer being tracked.

Smart Incognito with Tenta

For real privacy, users can consider the Tenta browser, which is truly private and encrypted. Users access their Tenta browser via a unique PIN that isn't even stored by Tenta. Nothing is ever logged and the Smart Incognito feature is actually incognito, automatically erasing cookies and browsing history after every session. Those are just a few of the privacy features offered by the Tenta Browser.

But for people who are fine with the lowest level of privacy - and who are clear about the limitations of the YouTube Incognito Mode - it's fairly easy to set up. Just open the YouTube app, tap on the account icon on the top right, and tap "Turn on Incognito." Your first time using the feature, YouTube will give you a pop-up explaining the limitations of this feature. Click "Got it" and you'll be in Incognito Mode.

Just be aware of what you're getting - and what you're not. There's nothing wrong with wanting to cover your tracks a little bit. But don't think Incognito Mode is going to do more than that.

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