There’s no denying that social media has changed the way people around the world conduct everything from their personal relationships to their business transactions. We find, sustain and even terminate love affairs via Facebook. We learn of devastating natural disasters in real time via Twitter. We track new product releases on companies’ websites and make fashion choices based on some influencer’s blog. We communicate and learn and teach across miles and platforms, shaping opinions and monitoring actions and news about people and places we might not ever have even known without the power of the Internet. And now, we are tracking and evaluating immigrants wanting entry to the U.S. using their social media activities.
In September of 2017, the Trump Administration updated the Department of Homeland Security’s digital monitoring policy to include the social media handles and their accompanying data for the last five years (as available in the public domain) for immigrants seeking U.S. visas. This means that information gleaned from publicly-accessed social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and others can be used as criteria for denying an applicant’s immigration request. Over the past year, even more modifications have been made, making it harder for non-immigrant travelers to the United States to obtain the necessary visas for legal U.S. entry, as well. While an attempt to safeguard American citizens, the policy is seen by many critics as an unnecessary level of investigation that serves as a violation of civil liberties and an impediment to the legal immigration process. According to CNN, the policy will “affect nearly 15 million would-be immigrants” awaiting approval.
Regardless of how you feel about social media activity serving as a reliable measure for U.S. citizenship, it is clear that social media platforms really are being used for just about everything these days. Here are a few things to keep in mind regarding your digital footprint if you’re considering traveling or moving to another country:
- Use the strictest privacy settings available for each platform.
- Do not associate with people you do not know.
- Refrain from sharing too much personal information in public spaces such as message boards, forums and other online groups.
- Never make jokes that could be construed as threatening to either a government entity or an individual.
- Avoid online friendships with people you know have questionable pasts or other ties to crime.
Social media applications undoubtedly provide useful and creative outlets for people to connect with one another. But they also provide easy access to data in ways you might not have ever considered. Be careful what you put on the worldwide web and think about getting advice from a professional eb-5 immigration attorney if you want to discuss all the different kinds of restrictions facing immigrants today.