Immigration officials will now scrutinize the social media profiles of some visa applicants as part of the Trump administration's vetting procedures for visitors to the US.
Officials will solicit social media handles—but not account passwords—using a revised visa application form that was approved on May 23, Reuters reports. The form asks applicants to list all social media platforms they've used in the past five years to "create or share content (photos, videos, status updates, etc.)."
The form is a supplement to the main visa application, and not all applicants will be required to fill it out. Only those whom the State Department identifies as potentially ineligible for a visa due to national security reasons, like connections to terrorism, must do so, according to Reuters.
The application form specifically notes that applicants need only include social media accounts that are publicly accessible. In theory, applicants aren't required to provide the information on the supplemental form, but the form says that leaving any section blank "may delay or prevent the processing of an individual visa application."
- Report: Visa Process to Include Social Media ReviewsReport: Visa Process to Include Social Media Reviews
The new visa application supplement was approved following months of criticism from civil rights groups over social media vetting procedures. The ACLU in February condemned an even stricter Trump administration proposal that would have asked visa applicants not only for their social media handles, but also their usernames and passwords.
"If sharing social media passwords becomes a routine condition of international travel, there is no doubt that people will suddenly feel a lot less able to speak freely online," ACLU staff attorney Esha Bhandari wrote.
In addition to social media account information, the newly approved form also asks for 15 years worth of travel history, as well as detailed biographical data that includes former addresses and the names of siblings, spouses, and children (but not parents).
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