Be cautious with your digital presence as you might now have to share it with the US State Department. As of Friday, millions of US immigrant and non-immigrant visa seekers will have to submit their social media history, email addresses and phone numbers dating back five years, including travel history and family affiliation with terrorism, as per a new State Department policy, writes The New York Times.
Providing all “social media identifiers” is part of the screening and vetting strategy advanced by the Trump administration in March of 2018. If any social channels are missing from the list, visa applicants are expected to volunteer account information.
The US government wants to analyze all personal information shared on social media channels, including photos, locations and milestones, to identify extremists and prevent attacks. The efficiency of this initiative is still to be determined.
“We already request certain contact information, travel history, family member information, and previous addresses from all visa applicants,” the State Department said in a statement. “We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect U.S. citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States.”
The social media surveillance rule applies to everyone trying to enter the country, regardless of whether they have visited high-risk countries or not, except for a select number of diplomats and state officials. Applicants are advised not to lie when filling out the forms because they could experience “serious immigration consequences,” explained by a government official.