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Visas Contingent on Social Media Posts
By: Jessica Cherok
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For people coming into the United States, social media profiles may become a big part of their visa applications. The State Department is making moves to include social media as part of the vetting process.

The proposed change is in response to alleged posts made on social media by the San Bernardino shooters. However, it now appears that there were no such public postings made, but instead private messages sent by Tashfeen Malik.

The issue of social media with visa applications has come up before, but has never been allowed due to a U.S. policy prohibiting review. The San Bernardino shooting has sparked debate as to whether or not this policy should be ended, and the State Department seems to be taking note.

The proposed change came up in 2014, and would have allowed review of publicly posted social media content, but did not include private messages. It is not known at this point if any changes to policy will include private messages.

Privacy and civil liberties advocates are concerned that information could be used for embarrassment or discrimination in the pursuit of terrorists. However, elected officials, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have asked for a change in policy to happen.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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