Papers, please – and your Facebook posts: US to demand social media info from visa applicants
People seeking a US visa may soon be required to disclose their social media information so that five years’ worth of their online footprint can be scrutinized. It was previously reserved for people from terrorism-affected states.
Diplomats and travelers facing extreme medical situations are to be exempt from the new, more rigorous vetting procedure proposed by the US State Department. All others, including immigrants and standard visitors, will have to disclose their accounts on a list of social media use in the past five years, as well as telephone numbers and email accounts used in the same period. Additional information may be required by the US government. Even the people with exemptions could be required to provide their social media info on some occasions.
Similar rules were previously in place for people perceived as a potential security risk, for instance those coming from countries with significant terrorist activity. The change is less severe than what was earlier proposed by some US officials. For instance, then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said people coming to America should be required to give up their social media passwords for checks. The level of access to travelers’ personal devices that officers of the US Customs and Border Patrol are allowed to receive was somewhat restricted in January.
The change may be disputed by the public in the next 60 days, once the department submits its proposal to the Federal Register later on Friday. So far there has been plenty of response online about how people will now be rejected visas for joking about America and concerns about possible privacy violations.
For instance, one popular comment on a reddit thread about this story has an imaginary dialogue at a US embassy: “’Are you a terrorist?’ ‘No’ ‘Are you a communist?’ ‘No’ ‘Do you want to kill the President?’ ‘No’ ‘Is this your Willy Wonka meme saying ‘Tell me again about your first world problems, America’?’ ‘Well, I, uh’. ‘Rejected.’”
“Looks like the US is finally going to win one of its many impossible wars... the war on tourism!” says another one.
Its not acceptable& it's against personal data protection.Will they be okay when they tour other countries& the same is done to them??— Waweru Martin (@48WaweruMartin) March 30, 2018
"Sorry sir, we're rejecting your application for a visa because you made fun of Three Doors Down on MySpace in 2013." -State Department— WH Customer Service (@POTUS_CustServ) March 30, 2018
Can't wait to print out every single one of my 6,754 tweets, one per page, and hand them to immigration. https://t.co/s5Hwcp3RiM— Basic Gay Sam (@CollectableCat) March 29, 2018
This requirement would cut immigration just by sheer embarrassment. Perhaps Immigration to rebrand as “Immigration Analytica”? "US visa applications may soon require five years of social media info" https://t.co/aXyBPuKjpK— Hikosaemon (@hikosaemon) March 29, 2018
Some of us then will never leave this country,with our freedom of speech,we are extremists...— Paul Njogu® (@pgnjogu) March 30, 2018
Well, good luck with your applications after those comments, guys.