Incognito mode is a familiar concept at the browser level. As GenAI continues to reconstitute how information across the web is aggregated and browsed, one might expect it to catch on within AI products as well.

To this point, only ChatGPT has integrated a private browsing mode. This follows the introduction of their feature to allow any user user to review their memory, even if they have not opted in to sharing their data in order to train future model iterations. As other foundational models like Claude have shown a pattern of following in ChatGPT's stead, it's likely we will see this functionality expand to other models and products as well.

Notably, Google explicitly disallows use of its AI search features in incognito mode of the user's browser, reverting to its classical search experience in these cases. This makes sense from a business perspective: the browser gains no benefit of user data in turn for the high cost to serve AI generated results. However, it is curious to compare their approach to ChatGPT.

Finally, there is a minor pattern of semi-privacy supported by Meta. While a user cannot prevent Meta AI from learning their preferences, they can mute messages from the AI for a specific period of time or indefinitely. This can serve to decrease the visibility of the feature, and cause the user to interact with it less.

Each of these approaches represent a different business strategy, driven by the distinct principles and commercials of each platform. Inevitably, there will be a convergence around the concept of private browsing. For now, ChatGPT leads the pack in user transparency and control.

Details and variations

As an emerging pattern, there are no standard details for this interaction. The most dominant current usage follows the pattern of incognito browsing at the browser level

  • Let the user start or end a private session
  • Style the interface a bit differently when in private mode
  • Be transparent with the difference in data storage and memory while in this mode



Guard your experience

Whether a user wants to make a quick request that doesn't clutter their history or explicitly hide information in their prompt from the AI's memory of them, incognito mode gives users more control over how they interact with AI and which footprints to leave behind

Potential risks

Unclear privacy

It's not clear or consistent what incognito means. Like the same mode in browsers, users are likely to think it offers more privacy than it appears.

Use when:
The user has a need to use the AI without saving or accessing any personal details.


ChatGPT allows any user to start a private chat from the model dropdown
Private chats in ChatGPT are styled distantly with clear callouts to the user about what data is affected
Meta allows users to mute the AI. They will still see the AI symbol, but it won't be as pronounced in their experience
Perplexity's incognito mode is available from the user menu
Perplexity shows an icon when the user is prompting in incognito mode, with information about what incognito means in their case
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