Senators push for background checks on social media

A bipartisan pair of senators is pushing President Obama to include the vetting of social media accounts as a regular part of visa background checks. 

 
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"In an era where a growing number of communications takes place on Internet platforms, it would be foolish to ignore this goldmine of information," the senators wrote in a letter obtained by The Hill. "We understand that social media entries cannot be dispositive, but to ignore the information out of hand is unreasonable."
 
The inclusion of social media in background checks has been under the spotlight since U.S. officials said that Tashfeen Malik, identified as one of the shooters in San Bernardino, Calif., posted a message on Facebook declaring allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) before carrying out the attack. 
 
FBI Director James Comey earlier on Wednesday said there was no evidence that either San Bernardino shooter posted any messages on social media suggesting that they had been radicalized.
 
ABC News reported earlier this month that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson decided against ending a policy blocking officials from reviewing social media accounts for visa applicants. An official told ABC News that while the department had started pilot programs on including social media in vetting, the programs were not widespread. 
 
The senators, who called Johnson's decision "foolhardy," added that if Obama decides to continue "an outdated policy," they want the administration to brief Congress on why they refuse to include social media in all background checks. 
 
Separately, 25 senators sent a letter to Johnson asking for more information on any plans to start including social media, which they pressed the DHS chief to do.
 
Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainRand Paul ‘concerned’ about Kavanaugh Senate Dems tell Trump: Don't meet with Putin one-on-one McConnell: Senate to confirm Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 MORE (R-Ariz.) has also introduced legislation that would require the DHS to search social media and publicly available information as part of any screening of foreign travelers visiting the United States or immigrants. 
 
Kirk as well as Sens. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntOvernight Defense: Fallout from tense NATO summit | Senators push to block ZTE deal in defense bill | Blackwater founder makes new pitch for mercenaries to run Afghan war Hillicon Valley: DOJ appeals AT&T-Time Warner ruling | FBI agent testifies in heated hearing | Uproar after FCC changes rules on consumer complaints | Broadcom makes bid for another US company | Facebook under fire over conspiracy sites Hillicon Valley: Justice Department appeals AT&T-Time Warner ruling | New report on election security | FBI agent testifies in marathon hearing MORE (R-Mo.) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteFormer Arizona senator to shepherd Supreme Court nominee through confirmation process Shut the back door to America's opioid epidemic Heitkamp ad highlights record as Senate race heats up MORE (R-N.H.) have backed that legislation.