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Trump administration to ask most US visa applicants for social media information
The Trump administration will implement a new policy Friday asking most applicants for U.S. visas to provide information on their use of social media, a U.S. Department of State official tells Hill.TV
Most visa applicants, including temporary visitors, will be required to list their social media identifiers in a drop down menu along with other personal information.
Applicants will have the option to say that they do not use social media if that is the case. The official noted that if a visa applicant lies about social media use that they could face "serious immigration consequences" as a result.
For now, the drop down menu only includes major social media websites, but the official said applicants soon will be able to list all sites that they use.
"This is a critical step forward in establishing enhanced vetting of foreign nationals seeking entry into the United States," the official told Hill.TV. "As we've seen around the world in recent years, social media can be a major forum for terrorist sentiment and activity. This will be a vital tool to screen out terrorists, public safety threats, and other dangerous individuals from gaining immigration benefits and setting foot on U.S. soil."
The social media identifiers will be incorporated into a background check review against watchlists generated by the U.S. government.
Applicants will also be required in the future to turn more extensive information on their travel history.
The policy stems from a March 2017 executive order issued by President Trump intended to put "extreme vetting" into place.
The State Department published its intent to implement the policy in March 2018.
The Obama administration came under significant criticism in 2015 after Tashfeen Malik helped her U.S.-born husband Syed Farook kill 14 people in a deadly 2015 shooting in San Bernardino, Calif.
Malik had declared terrorist sympathies in social media communications before she was granted a U.S. visa.
Trump's executive order is titled "Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States."