A new application form for people seeking a visa to enter the United States has been approved. And, as suspected, it requests information pertaining to social media accounts. The information is not mandatory but the form does also say that not providing the information may result in your applications being delayed or denied. In other words, it’s a section drafted by The Godfather’s “Department of Offers That Shouldn’t Be Refused”.
Providing the handles seems quite innocuous to me. But it also annoys me that entry into a country that considers us an ally is getting, at lest on paper, to be more difficult. I’ve had two entries into the United States this year and both have been among the smoothest ever. But I also concede that being a middle-aged white male probably helps when it comes to being “randomly” screened.
The new form asks for the name of the network and your name/handle of all the netwroks you’ve held accounts for over the last five years. So, if you lock down your settings it may be the case, depending on the platform, that all the Department of Homeland Security or whatever other agencies see the data will see very little unless they also have your password – and that is not being requested.
There are already reports that the “Trump Factor”, as the travel industry is calling it, has resulted in a 10% fall in tourism. My suspicion is this could add another percentage point or two to that number.
The US Federal Register has a notice regarding the updated form and what data it collects.
My advice is to lock down your accounts so that public access, based on simply knowing your name or handle, is minimised – something I think you should be doing in any case. And, while you’re at it, make sure you have a strong password and use 2FA if you can.