Protect Your Online Privacy

Privacy No DollarsNo Spying. No Tracking. No Ads.
Online Privacy is a priority. Long Time Thinking does not collect any information on you, does not track your movements on the web, does not give or sell any information about you to anyone, and does not display any ads.

This is rare among current sites for an unsurprising reason, money.  A high percentage of money made on the internet comes from advertising–Google for instance makes 96% of its income from advertising and Facebook makes about 85%.  For this reason, they and everyone else who profits from internet advertising have a financial incentive to collect data on you so that they can sell ads targeted at your particular interests, because, of course, the targeted ads are worth more to the advertisers.

The way they collect this information is called tracking.  Quite simply, they try to follow you everywhere you go on the internet and record everything you do, every website you visit, every word in your emails, all of it, in order to more specifically target advertising at you. If you find this distasteful, or an unjustifiable invasion of privacy, you are not alone: member states of the European Union have repeatedly brought legal action against Google and Facebook to protect the online privacy of their citizens.  The steps listed below are easy to implement, will not inconvenience you, and in fact will speed up your browsing experience.

1. Adblock Plus.
Adblock Plus protected privacy 57 times on mlb.com

The little number 57 is not a baseball player, it is the number of ads and tracking attempts blocked by Adblock Plus on the home page of mlb.com

A. If you don’t care about the tracking, but you just don’t want to see the ads, then install Adblock Plus into your browser.  Click the Adblock Plus url (http://adblockplus.org)  and then, if you are satisfied with what you see click the Install button.  Firefox (http://firefox.com) is the preferable browser, or its 64-bit variant Cyberfox (https://cyberfox.8pecxstudios.com/), because it can block the ads and any tracking code  they carry before they are downloaded into your computer–which can even make your browser run slightly faster.  Adblock Plus is the most popular browser extension in the world so many of you might already have it; if so, please read on because there might be some other things you can do with it or some other tips that might benefit you.

tracking-privacy2B. If you would like to interfere with the stalkers in a more active way, still with no effect on your browsing experience, then do a couple of more things.  When you install Adblock Plus, also enable the Anti-Tracking and Anti-Malware filters.  This prevents your browser from downloading tracking code and communicating with tracking websites.  Without these filters your browser often communicates with 10-20 tracking sites per page!  As with blocking the ads, this has the added benefit that not communicating with these nefarious sites saves bandwidth and can make your browser load pages faster.   If you do not automatically see the buttons to activate the Anti-Tracking and Anti-Malware filters, then click the Features page of the Adblock Plus site (https://adblockplus.org/en/features).

social-privacyC. This step can interfere with your social media browsing experience, but perhaps not significantly.  In Adblock Plus activate the Anti-Social Media buttons filter, on the Features page.  These buttons can and are used to track you, especially if you remain logged in to the websites they represent, Facebook, etc., which you should not do.   This filter will disable all of the Like and Share buttons and they will disappear and not track you.  If you absolutely need to share something the solution is to click the ABP (Adblock Plus) icon on your browser and choose Disable on  whatever page you want to use social media buttons on.  In the case of Long Time Thinking you can just go to the facebook.com/longtimethinking page and Like or Share the post and/or Like the page. If you want to avoid Facebook altogether you can Subscribe on the Home/Blogs page to receive the blog articles by email–they actually look pretty nice that way.  Or of course just come here when you want to read one.

2. Google Search is Spyware

When you search using google, each link in the search results is set to report home to google on where you are going, and then to take you there.  This is called redirection and it is one of the ways google invades your online privacy and compiles its information on you.  This is what a link in google search results actually looks like, though google hides this from you.  To confirm, right-click on a link in google search results and Copy Link Location; then open Notepad and right-click -> Paste:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCgQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Flongtimethinking.com%2F&ei=hECDVYyVNoTDsAWklJOwBA&usg=AFQjCNHbiov8kwH8c74yaJy98HA6w3Hx-A&bvm=bv.96041959,d.b2w

Install Google Redirects Fixer (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/google-no-tracking-url/?src=ss) and this is what a link will look like:

http://longtimethinking.com/duckduckgo2DuckBuckGo Protects Your Privacy

Big difference, eh?  An alternative is to set your search engine to Duck Duck  Go (https://duckduckgo.com/)  which does not track you in the first place.

3.  Use Microsoft Hotmail/Outlook

Microsoft Protects Your PrivacyChange your email and other accounts from Google/Gmail to Microsoft/Hotmail/Outlook. On May 5, 2014 Microsoft amended its Privacy Policy to include the following:

“As part of our ongoing commitment to respecting your privacy, we won’t use your documents, photos or other personal files or what you say in email, chat, video calls or voice mail to target advertising to you.” (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/microsoft-services-agreement-faq)

4. Log Off

Do not remain logged into Facebook or Google.  Log in to use them, then log out.  If you remain logged into Google and Facebook, they have the ability to follow every move you make. When you login to Facebook, do NOT check the box that says “Keep Me Logged In.”

5. Firefox Settings

firefoxA. If you close your browser without logging out of Google and Facebook, most browsers are set to auto-login when you restart your browser, so the stalkers can still see everything you do.  However,  it is possible to set the Firefox browser to not Auto-Login to these services.   Click the menu icon, then Options -> Privacy -> Use custom setting for history -> Check Clear history when Firefox closes -> Settings -> Check Auto-Logins.

B. if you really want to go as incognito as possible then set Firefox to erase all cookies when you log out.  This involves some inconvenience to your browsing experience: for instance, your bank will not automatically recognize you and will probably make you do a 2-stage authentication, meaning they will ask a security question or text you a logon code.  On the other hand this is more secure anyway.  Follow the instructions in 5.A. directly above and check both Auto-Logins and Cookies.

The short video below shows how to do it.

 

You should know that these techniques were designed for and work best on PC’s (Linux, Windows, or Mac).  Android by Google and Apple phones and tablets were designed as “marketing platforms” and they are going to track you no matter what you do.  You can use the techniques above on Windows tablets however and, presumably, to some extent, on Windows phones.

DistrowatchNote: In this case my qualifications might be germane.  As playdayz, I was the coordinator of the open source Linux distribution Lucid Puppy Linux from 2009-2012.  At that time Puppy, which was created by Barry Kauler, was, on average, the 6th most popular Linux distribution in the world.  It has recently occurred to me that we might have been the most popular distribution that was entirely without any monetary considerations whatsoever, that is, no salaried employees, no “Premium” paid support, no ads on the official web site.  I began developing and testing these techniques for Puppy Linux users to give them maximum online privacy protection consistent with unimpaired usability.  There are other add-ons that do the things Adblock Plus does, and some that do more, but I find the setup I described has the best combination of protection and ease of use for most users who care about online privacy, (and that those other users generally prefer increased privacy and know how to get it without any advice from me).

More Notes (Yes, there really are more notes)

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