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10 Ways to Protect Your Privacy and Stay Safe Online

10 Ways to Protect Your Privacy and Stay Safe Online

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:

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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.

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      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.

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      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

      More by this author

      Daniel Wallen

      Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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      Last Updated on February 15, 2019

      7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

      7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

      Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

      Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

      Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

      So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

      Joe’s Goals

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        Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

        Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

        Daytum

          Daytum

          is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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          Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

          Excel or Numbers

            If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

            What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

            Evernote

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              I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

              Evernote is free with a premium version available.

              Access or Bento

                If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                Conclusion

                I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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