Facebook and Twitter posts could now play an important role in your visa approval. The Department of Homeland Security is said to be working on a new plan to consider social media posts for visa reviews, says a report from The Wall Street Journal.
Facebook check could have averted San Bernardino incident
Such a plan can also be seen as a response to the San Bernardino shooting earlier this month that killed 14 innocent people. One of the attackers was on a visa and passed three background checks. What’s surprising is that none of the checks raised any alarm despite the attacker’s social media posts on Facebook and Twitter supporting violent jihad.
Presently, investigators are scanning Facebook posts, computer records and other locations of the accused husband and wife team — Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik – for any hint about their intentions. Ms. Malik, who spent all her life in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, came to the U.S. in 2014 on a K-1 visa, which is given to fiancées of Americans.
On the day of the shooting, Ms. Malik acknowledged her allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group on a Facebook. Now counter-terrorism officials are making efforts to find out if she made also similar social media posts in the past.
Need for revised visa guidelines
As of now, there are not many details available about the new plan, but it could be part of the new focus of the department on social media, the report says. Traditionally, the department has focused on legal records for processing the visa applications.
Presently, the department only considers these postings intermittently and “as part of three pilot programs that began in earnest earlier this year,” the Journal says. The pilot programs that are used currently do not consider all social media posts. Also there are not many details of these programs available as the government does not want to reveal the secret process it uses to track potential threats.
In the present scenario, there is a need for revised visa guidelines that are more focused on social behavior, including on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms. Even President Obama called for similar reforms. After the attack, Obama urged “high-tech and law enforcement leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice.”