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When do Firefox users go private?

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From the 'Web Privacy' files:

Privacy Mode (aka Porn Mode) is a browser feature in most modern web browsers that aims to 'hide' your activities from others users on the same system.

Personally, I've always wondered when people use Privacy Mode, and now Mozilla has a study out with the answer.

Via their Test Pilot add-on, which anonymously (with an opt-in model) sends data to Mozilla about browser activities, Mozilla has some interesting insights into how users are using private mode. No, they don't know if it's actually be used for porn -- they actually don't know which sites users are browsing at all. It's just a usage of the feature study, but still interesting stuff.

Turns out the most users only use private mode for 10 minutes at a time. Hmmm what only takes ten minutes to browse?

As for time of day, apparently users are slacking off during work-day hours to get their 'private' fix either. According to Mozilla's data, the times of day with the most usage are:

  1. Lunch: users likely switch into Private Browsing during their lunch breaks.  We see a major spike between 11 and 2pm.
  2. After School / Work: users appear to switch on Private Browsing just after they've returned from work or school, which is around 5pm.
  3. After Dinner: we have another substantial peak between nine and ten pm.
  4. Late Night: a minor spike exists an hour or two after midnight.

Not too surprising -- but good to know (for corp IT at least) that private mode isn't taking up the whole workday. On an anonymous basis, I do think it would be interesting to find out if Private Mode actually is used mostly for viewing illicit content or if it's something less innocuous like online shopping.

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