The United States is now requiring nearly all visa seekers to provide personal details about their social media activities they have used in the past five years under a State Department policy that started on Friday.
Such account info would provide the govt. access to photos, locations, dates of birth, dates of milestones and other personal data commonly shared on social media and these new requirements are expected to affect about 15 million foreigners who seek US visa each year.
In March 2018, The Trump administration first proposed the changes. The policy is part of the U.S. government’s expanded “extreme vetting” method for all immigrants and guests. Those who are seeking diplomatic or official visas are only applicants which not covered under the new rules.
Last week The U.S. State Department confirmed to the AP that it had changed it’s immigrant and non-immigrant visa forms to require the additional information. The forms seek five years’ worth of social media user names, telephone numbers, international travel activities, and deportation history. Visa seekers are also asked whether any family members have been involved in terrorist activities, to protect national security
The Hill reported that the visa seekers can choose to say they have no social media accounts. However, the State Department has warned that lying regarding social media activities would have serious immigration results for visa seekers.
The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, and several privacy rights groups voiced opposition to the new requirements when they were first proposed last year. At the time, the ACLU warned the move would have a “chilling” impact on freedom of speech.