One of the major things Donald Trump promised his electorate was reducing immigration to the US. It seems the measures that have been introduced since he got into office have had little effect to bring down the number of people coming to the country. So new changes have been made to empower immigration officials when screening applications.
As of Friday, almost all US visa applications now must include a their social media profile information, plus email addresses and phone numbers from the last five years. Exceptions will only be made for a few types of diplomatic and official visa requests.
People applying for a visa will have to give details of any accounts they have on a predetermined list of major social platforms, though in the future other smaller sites will be included, too. A Department of State official said,
social media can be a major forum for terrorist sentiment and activity. 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.
Until now, social media information has only been a requirement on visa applications from people who needed ‘additional vetting’, meaning people who have been to suspicious or coming from hostile territories like Syria, Iraq or North Korea. So it seems more like they making official a practice that has been happening all along.
What if you lie and say that you are not on any social network?
You will probably get away with it if you lie but the State official said that there would be “serious immigration consequences” for anyone found to be lying about their social presence.
While some have expressed concerns that this is an invasion of privacy, to me I just think that its only sensible when undertaking any investigation into who a person is and what they believe (whether for a new job or in this case entry to a country) to include checks on social media. I just don’t buy the idea that a persons digital life should be separate from their real world life. I actually think that in future even banks and other lending institutions will be requesting your social media information when you ask for a loan.
Of course privacy should be valued but also the security of a country should be valued as well. Its a dilema.