U.S. officials could soon start checking social media posts while processing visa applications.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has confirmed that it is specifically reviewing policies on when authorities at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can look at social media posts as part of the vetting process for would-be immigrants applying for certain visas.
The effort comes just weeks after Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people during a shooting spree in San Bernardino, California. It later emerged that Malik had made comments on social media sites, including Facebook, voicing her support for the Islamic State. Immigration authorities reportedly failed to unearth her postings when she applied for and obtained a U.S. K-1 fiancé visa.
At present, DHS looks at immigrants’ social media postings only intermittently and as part of several pilot programs. It said it was unclear whether a new process could be implemented quickly.
It is to be mentioned that Malik had used an alias when writing on Facebook, and it remains to be seen whether officials could possibly scour every applicant’s Internet posts. The government approved more than 9.9 million visa applications during the 2014 budget year. The shooting has also prompted lawmakers to focus more on vetting social media profiles. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., for example, recently introduced legislation that would require social media companies to report online terrorist activity to law enforcement.