Social profiling: US border agents want to know what you're saying on Facebook & Twitter

© Tami Chappell
Watch what you say on Facebook and Twitter or you might not be able to enter the US.

A new proposal to ask visitors for their “social media identifier” could help border agents “investigate” your background without having to go to the NSA.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), believes having this “identifier” could help it find “possible nefarious activity and connections.”

If the plan is approved following a public consultation process that ends on August 22, those traveling under either the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) or visa waiver programs under Form I-94W would have the option of answering, “Please enter information associated with your online presence – Provider/Platform – Social media identifier,” according to the Federal Register.

The social media information would be gathered in addition to the numerous database checks, fingerprinting, and face-to-interviews that already take place.

How it would be processed is not revealed in the proposal and providing the information would be voluntary.

The DHS says that having access to social media details “will enhance the existing investigative process” and provide “an additional tool set which analysts and investigators may use to better analyze and investigate.”

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The DHS said that it would be taking a closer look at the social media posts of visa applicants following the attack in San Bernardino, California last December in which 14 people were killed.

An examination of the social media profiles of the killers who carried out that massacre provided a good deal of evidence for the investigation, although not enough to identify a motive which remains unclear.

Other changes to the visa waiver program, adopted by the US House of Representatives last December, require that travelers who have visited a particular list of countries in the previous five years, including Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Sudan, and Libya, be subjected to increased scrutiny.