New applications for visa to the US are now being asked to provide details of their Facebook and Twitter accounts
A new questionnaire for visa applications to enter the US has been approved by the Trump administration and on the application it asks for social media network usernames going back for 5 years.
As well as your Facebook details it can also request telephone numbers, email addresses and 15 years of bio information. This extra information can be requested when extra vetting is require for national security reasons. The state department estimates that only 0.5 percent of applications will be given the extra questionnaire.
The state department pointed out that providing this extra information is voluntary but if they do not provide the extra information they maybe denied entry to the USA. This raises the question about whether people who don’t use social media will be at a disadvantage since I may deem that they are refusing to provide the details? There is also the issue of what power the state department have if your social media accounts privacy setting mean they are not publicly viewable. Does giving the state dept the social media details on the visa application allow them to go to Facebook and get all your posts, messages and friends details? What about for social media networks based outside the US such as VK which is based in Russia?
There is obviously a big privacy concern regarding collecting this information not just for the applicant who’s data could be kept on file for years, but also for any friends and contacts in their social media networks. If they deny a visa to someone because of something on their social media could the US state dept use the information gained to put any of their social network ‘friends’ onto a watch list for future visas even if they are only an acquaintance of the original applicant?