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US immigration authorities have explained how they will check the social networks of tourists and immigrants

The US Department of Homeland Security plans to start requesting information about social networks from immigrants and others seeking entry into the United States.

Фото: Depositphotos

Some foreign travelers to the United States, as well as applicants for immigration benefits, will be required to list their social media accounts in the past five years, per a notice in the Federal Register. This information will be used to determine if a person is “a threat to US public or national security”.

The social media platforms that will be monitored include Facebook, Instagram, Reddit,, Weibo, Myspace, YouTube and Linkedin. The Office declares that it will not collect passwords and will only view publicly available information.


The Department of State is already requesting information on social networks from most US visa applicants.

On the subject: Tightened migration rules: if you want a US visa - show social networks

In June, the State Department stated that the application forms for immigrant and non-immigrant visas were updated “To request additional information, including social media identifiers”.

Updated data collection will affect nine U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services programs for immigration benefits, such as naturalization and asylum applications, and three forms of Customs and Border Control for expired visas, visa updates and documents of the Electronic System for travel permits.

Changes are expected to take effect in 2020.

Фото: Depositphotos

Last week, the Citizenship and Immigration Services updated its privacy policy, which stated that it would allow immigration agents to use fake social media accounts or identity checks for visa applicants and to identify threats and fraud in the immigration system. The immigration agency is allowed to use fake accounts only to check the public data of users of social networks.

These two events are “a reflection of the extent to which US government agencies have really expanded their use of social media surveillance,” said Hugh Handyside, attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union.

He also told CNN that this would “inevitably limit freedom of speech” because people will know the government is watching them.


On the subject: New visa control rules: why do US immigration agents need fictitious social media pages

The Department of Homeland Security is currently using social media information to verify applicants for visas, but says finding applicants' accounts is a time-consuming process. According to representatives of the department, collecting user names when applying for a visa will reduce the time required to verify accounts on social networks.

Proponents of confidentiality claim that collecting information from social networks is of limited value and can create a situation of discrimination.

“There is no evidence that social media monitoring is useful for identifying security threats,” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Justice and Homeland Security Program at the Brennan Center. Patel also noted that “social media is inherently very difficult to interpret”, adding that it is highly contextual and often includes slang and cultural differences.

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