Leaving Facebook

Posted by gminks in privacy | Tagged , | Leave a comment

I’m leaving Facebook. I’ve been wanting to for a while, but the passage of CISA – the Cyberspace Information Sharing Act of 2015 – has finally pushed me into action.

Why am I freaking out over CISA? Many of my friends have responded this way when I have told them about my plans:

  • I’ve always been careful about what I shared, so this doesn’t worry me.
  • I don’t post to Facebook, so I don’t have anything to worry about.

CISA is much bigger than your social media presence or brand, so these responses totally miss the mark. And the amount of content you create really doesn’t matter when it comes to CISA either.

You should be terrified of CISA. The bill strips Americans of basic rights in the name of protecting us from terrorism. The bill was shoe-horned into a spending bill that *had* to be passed so the government keeps running. It will increase the US government’s ability to spy on citizens, by providing unfettered access to the way we interact with online systems.

Oh, it’s all wrapped up in reasonable legal language………

Purpose: create a mechanism for the government to share cybersecurity threats with everyone. I highlighted the undefined terms.

This bill requires the Director of National Intelligence and the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS), Defense, and Justice to develop procedures to share cybersecurity threat information with private entities, nonfederal government agencies, state, tribal, and local governments, the public, and entities under threats.

If companies voluntarily share this threats and how the are taking defensive measures, the government will protect them.

Liability protections are provided to entities that voluntarily share and receive cyber threat indicators and defensive measures with other entities or the government.

The sharing process will be automated and real-time. Good thing programming is a politically-neutral activity huh?

A sharing process must be developed within DHS for the federal government to: (1) receive indicators and defensive measures that are shared by any entity, and (2) ensure that appropriate federal entities receive shared indicators in an automated, real-time manner.

But don’t worry, the government will only use info it gets for very specific, vaguely defined purposes:

The bill limits the purposes for which the government may use shared information to certain cybersecurity purposes and responses to imminent threats or serious threats to a minor. The crimes that may be prosecuted with such information are restricted to offenses relating to fraud and identity theft, espionage, censorship, trade secrets, or an imminent threat of death, serious bodily harm, or serious economic harm, including a terrorist act or use of a weapon of mass destruction.


The bill creates a legal climate that gives corporations immunity for sharing our online habits with the government — without providing us any due process. There are not many definitions in the bill, just the expectation that the government and big business will do the right thing. We know that they have an awesome track record when it comes to legislating first and doing the right thing later (the Dawes Act comes to mind for me).

The information that will be shared isn’t fully defined, and that makes the possible unintended consequences staggering. The only way to protect ourselves is to be more vigilant about the data we allow companies to collect. This isn’t just the content you post. It’s what you view. It’s what you like. It’s your connected-ness, and all of these things combined. It’s who you are supposed to be, and any indicators that you may be swaying from your assigned personna and becoming someone else. It’s your role as a node in the lives of your relations (that sketchy uncle or activist sister). It’s more than the data you knowingly contribute, its the information that is derived from that data.

I’m going to start hardening my electronic presence. I’m starting with Facebook because the data they collect on us is staggering.  It is also staggering how hard it is to leave. My leave date is early Jan – I’m hosting a New Year’s Eve party and the invite is on the site (yet another hardship — what will I use for invites? Facebook was so…easy). I’ve removed Facebook from my phone.

I’ve requested my data, but Facebook has yet to send it to me. I’m guessing I do have a huge archive, I’ve used Facebook pretty much since they opened it to the general public. I’ll write up a general how-do-I-leave once I’ve completed all the steps, but this is how to get your archive:

  1. Go to your profile page
  2. In the top right of your browser, click Privacy Shortcuts (a lock with three lines next to it)
  3. Near the bottom of the pop-up window, click See More Settings
  4. In the left panel, click General.
  5. Near the bottom of the page, click Download a copy of your Facebook data.

I’m not sure what happens next, but I’ll let y’all know.

I know people may think this post is a little dramatic, and that’s fine with me. We’ve been super lax about our privacy for too long. We need to protect ourselves and our loved ones.



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