Privacy is a basic human right that is protected by the U.S. Constitution and international law. Despite the illegality of warrant-less spying, disclosures by whistle-blower Edward Snowden reveal that the NSA would like to know all of your secrets. Don’t wait for your government to do the right thing. Take action today with these ten ways to protect your privacy and stay safe online.

1. Block intrusive game requests and excessive event invitations.

Do you have friends you love dearly, but insist on sending annoying game requests and event invitations? Click here to ban them from inviting you to anything ever again (they won’t even know you did it). You can also block specific games and apps. I would suggest starting with the most common ones like FarmVille, Candy Crush, Mafia Wars, and Words with Friends.

2. Prevent online stalking by removing location information from your Facebook profile.

Let me illustrate how creepy Facebook’s Graph Search feature is. If I wanted to, I could search for who is single based on their location, employer, school (even high school), and interests. Even more specifically, I’m a single guy who likes to travel, and I happen to write for Lifehack all the time, so I could perform a search like this:

lifehack search

Note: I removed the names to protect the innocent (although I’m fully aware you could find them in 10 seconds if you replicate this search yourself, but please don’t abuse the power).

If you ever get strange friend requests from people you’ve never met who send flirty (maybe awkward?) messages, they probably performed a search like this to find you. You can protect yourself from creeping by removing all searchable information from your profile, especially the city you live in, the school you attend (or attended) and your employer.

3. Tell Mark Zuckerberg to stop being an Internet creep.

facebook

Facebook is now using your browsing and apps history for ads (despite saying it wouldn’t three years ago). While I’m not concerned with increased monitoring for marketing purposes, you have to remember that Facebook is a powerful weapon for governments who spy on their populations. Click HERE to tell Mark Zuckerberg to back off.

4. Use lists to protect posts from being viewed by the Internet at large.

Facebook’s default post setting was “public” (meaning anybody could read your status updates) until very recently. While changing that setting to “friends only” is a welcome decision, you might want to consider using lists for added protection (click here for more information).

5. Disable geotagging on Twitter.

If you think it’s wise to leave a digital footprint of your location on every tweet, please consider how easy it would be to determine your home and work address with this information. Log-in to your Twitter and click HERE to make sure geotagging is disabled. While you’re there, I would also suggest making these quick changes (don’t forget to click “save” when you’re done!):

  • Protect your tweets if you want them to be viewed by friends only
  • Right below that, click “Delete All Location Information” to remove past tracking data
  • Uncheck the boxes for “Personalization” and “Promoted Content” for extra privacy protection

6. Turn off your cellphone GPS unless you are traveling somewhere new.

Your cellphone is practically a tracking device that could be exploited to determine your exact location at any time. Even though that sounds like an Orwellian nightmare straight out of 1984, it is an inconvenient truth you need to accept. Following these steps will make you more difficult to trace.

7. Destroy leftover data from old apps with SD Maid.

Even if you delete an app, that doesn’t guarantee it won’t leave behind data that could clog up your memory and compromise security. Click here to download SD Maid, which will remove useless files with ease.

8. Encrypt your text messages with TextSecure.

According to the Guardian, “The NSA has collected almost 200 million text messages a day from across the globe, using them to extract data including location, contact networks and credit card details.” Click here to keep your personal conversations private with TextSecure.

9. Protect calls from snooping with RedPhone.

According to the Guardian, the NSA is monitoring the telephone records of millions of Verizon customers under a top secret court order that “requires Verizon on an ongoing, daily basis to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.” Click here to secure your conversations so nobody can listen in with RedPhone.

10. Tell your representatives lawless spying is unacceptable.

The best way to achieve positive change is to demand it from the politicians who represent you. Don’t take my word for it: take it from an ex-congressional employee:

“Very few Americans, despite having a country with millions of us, ever call their legislators. 100+ phone calls per office in Congress would blow people’s minds. We receive that little contact from people despite each office representing 100,000s+ citizens. This is because so many people drink the kool-aid that they have no power or that money controls everything. This is untrue. What happens is money wins when people never complain (to their legislators!).” [source]

Don’t wait for a politician or activist to save you, because you’re more powerful than you think you are. Click HERE to make your voice heard. Please share this article if you want to help your friends protect their privacy and stay safe online.

Featured photo credit: Edward Snowden/The Guardian via theguardian.com

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