More than 14 million people, who have applied for a visa to enter US, will now be asked to go for social media screening. The applicants have been asked to the user names of their social media profiles for the past five years. This move is being undertaken as part of a proposed rule of the US State department.
The administration of US President Donald Trump had announced in September 2017 that such a move would be initiated and visa seekers would need to submit their social media data. The plan was expected to impact more than 7,10,000 people per year.
Visa seekers have been asked to submit details of their profiles on social media platforms like Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Myspace, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine and YouTube. Members with profiles on Chinese sites Douban, QQ, Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo and Youku; the Russian social network VK; Twoo, which was created in Belgium; and Ask.fm, a question-and-answer platform based in Latvia, have also been asked to submit their details.
This decision is not applicable for citizens of 40 countries for which US grants visa-free travel. These countries include Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and South Korea.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that the proposal is yet to be approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The social media information gathered will be used to vet and identify visa applicants.
The proposals support President Donald Trump’s promise to institute "extreme vetting" of foreigners entering the United states to prevent terrorism.
Previously, under rules instituted last May, consular officials were instructed to collect social media identifiers only when they determined “that such information is required to confirm identity or conduct more rigorous national security vetting,” a State Department official said at the time.
(With Reuters inputs)