Protecting your privacy is n0t easy in the digital age. Your online footprint is everywhere. As students this comes with a special risk because not only does your University likely monitor your internet to some degree but many private universities have codes of conduct that extend to the internet. As a result, venting on Facebook or twitter can have serious consequences for students, even students at public schools who have the benefit of First Amendment protection.
There are ways to protect your privacy when surfing the internet; even on a campus that monitors your internet usage. The best way to do so is to use Tor. Tor protects your privacy by routing your internet traffic through multiple relays. As a result, anyone monitoring your traffic sees your connection to the Tor network but not the webpage you are viewing. Tor has some limitations, notably flash and bit torrents. So if you are downloading videos or streaming videos online Tor is not as effective.
Another way to protect your privacy is to use the privacy settings on your social media websites more effectively. Facebook has as default setting for your posts, so you can limit the viewership. This is good because it prevents late-night, Redbull and vodka induced postings from being sent to everyone. Additionally, since Facebook lets you change the privacy settings for each post as you make them, you can expand the viewship for specific posts when you desire. Twitter allows you to limit your followers. This is a good thing to do if you are not trying to actively promote yourself, your company, your non-profit or your cause. Google+ is the most difficult case. Google+ requires you to set your viewership circles every time you post. It defaults to whatever your previous post viewship setting was, so be careful.
You can get detailed step by step instructions for using these privacy settings at lifehacker.com. Lifehacker.com has great pages devoted to the privacy settings for the big social media pages (Twitter, Google+, Facebook), and we recommend you check those from time to time.