Your Facebook please: US begins demanding full social media background from visa

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The US State Department has begun requiring visa applicants to submit five years’ worth of social media history, threatening “serious immigration consequences” for those who attempt to conceal their accounts.

Both temporary visitors and those seeking permanent residence are required to fill out the new forms, which include drop-down menus that currently list only the “major” social media platforms. Applicants also have the option of stating they do not use social media, but a State Department official told The Hill that lying about such use would have “serious immigration consequences.

After forking over five years’ worth of social media accounts, applicants must provide five years of telephone numbers, email addresses, and travel history. They are also asked if family members have been involved in “terrorist activities,” though it’s unclear why anyone would answer such a question in the affirmative.

This will be a vital tool to screen out terrorists, public safety threats, and other dangerous individuals,” the official enthused, explaining that the accounts would be worked into a full background check against terror watchlists and that visa applications would eventually require an even more complete travel history.

The policy is unfair to travelers, placing them at the mercy of government officials who could easily misconstrue an online conversation, the American Civil Liberties Union objected last year after the measure was proposed, adding that such misunderstandings could be deliberate, providing excuses to turn away “undesirables.”


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