New regulations allow border agents to view your social media accounts to decide entry.
In a highly criticized move based on paranoia and vote-pandering, new regulations in the US can allow border agents to view your social media accounts prior to allowing you entry. While the “questionnaire,” as it’s so benignly referred to, is still listed as optional, the government has already stated that refusing to comply with the questionnaire can be grounds for denial of entry.
In addition to the typically invasive information like past addresses for the previous 15 years, siblings’ names, and all visits to countries other than their country of origin for the past decade and a half, the new paperwork requests the recipient’s social media handles for all available channels; this is meant to allow officials to check their posts before deciding to issue the visa. The officials are presumably looking for evidence of anti-American sentiment, radical political or religious postings, and other similarly useless information. It’s worth noting that the numbers of crimes classified as terrorist activity in the past decade have largely been committed by US citizens who claim mainstream religious and political viewpoints, and therefore have no requirement to turn over access to their social media accounts.
This practice has been sharply criticized in terms of employment and hiring in the US, although only two states have enacted legislation that prohibits a potential employer from requiring applicants to log into their accounts and allow them to browse around. However, Harvard University made headlines this week when it announced that ten incoming students have had their admissions offers revoked due to the content of their social media posts, which the school claims is not in line with the attitudes and behavior they expect of their students.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, the real issue is in determining who is requested to fill out the document. Not all visa applicants will receive it, and the government has stated that only around 0.5% of applicants will be asked for this information. Unless there’s proof of random sampling for study purposes, it’s not hard to guess which criteria will be used to determine who is asked to fill it out.