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Homeland Security details social media collection from immigrants

The practice is similar to what's required from visa applicants today.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
September 8, 2019
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AP Photo/John Raoux

The Department of Homeland Security has explained how it will demand social media info from asylum from newcomers to the US beyond visa applicants. A notice in the Federal Register makes clear that officials will ask for social network data in seven forms that asylum seekers, immigrants, refugees and "inadmissable aliens" must fill to be allowed into the country, whether temporarily or permanently. They'll have to provide five years' worth of usernames if they've used any of the same 19 sites that fall under the visa checks, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Chinese sites like Douban and Weibo.

The AP said in June that Homeland Security was planning to expand its social media collection, but there haven't been details until now.

There have been numerous objections to Homeland Security's practices, particularly since the visa requirements took effect in May. It's not clear just how investigators conduct searches, or what they're specifically looking for. There have also been multiple instances of questionable decisions, such as a Harvard student who was denied a visa based on his friends' posts, not his own (he's since been cleared). There are concerns that authorities might either make bad judgment calls or abuse the requirements to reject people based on thin pretexts.

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