WANT TO STAY in the USA? Best hope there's nothing too incriminating on your social media accounts. Plans first floated back in 2017 requiring visitors to give their social media account information will come to pass soon, according to The Hill.
To begin with, the social media accounts requested will only be the big players selected via a drop down menu, but that could expand. Visitors can also volunteer extra accounts, but it's not clear why you'd want to, unless you look particularly attractive in your Flickr profile picture, and have a thing for the immigration officials.
Social media account names are needed for the last five years, and you'll also have to include things like your email addresses and phone number alongside travel status and small things like whether or not your family has ever been involved in terrorism. To be honest, that last point is probably more of an indicator as to terrorist intent than whether you religiously tweet along to Love Island, but who are we to question the wisdom of the policy?
And that's the main intent: to weed out extremists and prevent them entering the country. "As we've seen around the world in recent years, social media can be a major forum for terrorist sentiment and activity," a State Department official told The Hill.
"This will be a vital tool to screen out terrorists, public safety threats, and other dangerous individuals from gaining immigration benefits and setting foot on U.S. soil."
Of course, said extremists could just lie and deny having social media accounts, although the official did add that anyone lying could face "serious immigration consequences." Though unless you're hugely prominent, it's unlikely they'd spot a lie in time, and terrorism itself tends to come with pretty serious consequences of its own anyway, so as deterrents go it's a touch on the weak side.
In any case, relying on the honesty of terrorists does feel like a pretty high-stakes gamble, while law-abiding citizens will have to deal with a lengthier process and invasive probing into their private life. ‘Twas ever thus. µ
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