Google can do better for victims of domestic violence.

Having done research in the past as a grant writer for domestic violence programs, I’m familiar with the great lengths that these organizations go to in order to help victims avoid discovery. See, for example, this list of resources on clearing your browsing history.

I use Chrome’s incognito mode so I can simultaneously access Google Drive for my personal account and my nonprofit’s account. I don’t bother switching windows to Google search things (cuz duh), so imagine my confusion when I accidentally pulled up Google Now on my phone (which I’m constantly doing) and saw the things I searched for in the incognito window this morning.

Sure enough, with my personal GMail account open in one incognito tab, I searched in other incognito tabs and then pulled up Google Now. All the terms appeared.

Screenshot_2015-04-23-13-37-08

What if, following the protocol that a lot of these websites have researched and provided, a victim of domestic violence searched for help or advice in incognito mode, but didn’t know that her (or his) phone was recording the search terms? If her abuser started poking around her phone and found “how do I escape my abuser,” well, not good. Or what if Google starts running ads that cause suspicion as a result of terms used in incognito mode? I’m sure it’s ruined more than one gift exchange and led to plenty of awkward moments, so Google’s incentives extend to broader customer satisfaction, too (in the event that doing what’s right is not motive enough).

Of course, you can change your Google account settings not to track data at all, but that might also seem suspicious to a controlling, abusive person.

I’ve already tweeted a few things about this at Google, but I’m not exactly a social media campaign mastermind. Anyway, if you think it’s important, I’d appreciate your help gaining some traction. I guess I’ll use #GoogleCanDoBetter even though I hate long hashtags. (Please help me come up with better ones!)

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