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December 15, 2015
A 'No-Brainer': Social Media Count for Identity
We don't normally venture into political realms, but whether social media postings should be vetted when issuing visas to foreign nationals seems a no-brainer. To virtually everyone, apparently, but Jeh Johnson, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. It would have been "bad public relations," he feared, if it was discovered that the U.S. was factoring social media postings into visa checks. Well, geez.

"The Constitution," notes a Hot Air post, "does not cover visa applications from foreigners; there is no right to a visa. Furthermore, social media statements are public in nature, not private, so reading and considering them in terms of security concerns for entry into the U.S. has no civil-liberties involvement either. Public declarations of support for jihad should not just be acceptable criteria for vetting, it should be a no-brainer as an automatic denial of the visa application in an age of global Islamist terrorism." 

Now, this isn't an open and shut matter in the instance of Tashfeen Malik, who with her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, killed 14 people and injured many others in the San Bernardino, CA, attack, the worst terrorist carnage since 9/11. A social media review might not have spotted Ms. Malik, because she evidently used a pseudoynm and privacy settings in her inflammatory social media postings. But with social media being part of today's informational horde on anyone, it ought not be excluded in background checks on visa applicants. We'd think that would be perfectly apparent to anyone, Homeland Security officials included, and not just a matter of "public relations". 

(Photo: Jeh Johnson, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security)

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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