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The senators, who called Johnson's decision "foolhardy," added that if Obama decides to continue "an outdated policy," they want the administration to brief Congress on why they refuse to include social media in all background checks.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.