Internet users went to social media to criticize and protest the US State Department decision to require social media usernames from US visa applicants as of this week.
On Saturday, the US State Department announced implementing a new requirement that US visa applicants must submit their social media usernames, email addresses, and phone numbers for the past five years as part of the application.
The step is aimed at “protecting US citizens while supporting legitimate travel to the United States,” the department said.
The new regulations were first proposed last year in March 2018, yet the State Department has recently updated the application forms to request the additional information.
Social media users went to take screenshots for the new questions added to the visa application forms. It shows a list of social media platforms and asks applicants to fill the account names they had for the past five years.
If any journalists need a screenshot of the new visa question, please use this one as I took it myself versus the one I posted which was passed to me by a colleague and I'm not sure of the origin. This one actually shows more detail anyway. pic.twitter.com/iDZvk3LIOv— (((Greg Siskind))) (@gsiskind) May 31, 2019
The new regulations were widely criticized among Americans as well as others. As it highlights the US intention to allow people entering the country after monitoring them and their personal life on social media, it also led people to question the US ability to access the social media archives where it can actually check users’ profiles.
This surely means the US government has access to archives of social media data right?.....Top tip for travellers , act like an angel on Social Media or your gonna be DENIED entry.— Damo (@Damo_C_) June 1, 2019
Some users went to share hashtag #WatchWhatYouPost, mocking the US decision.
So now, when applying for US visa I have to submit my social media handle. With that the US Department of Homeland Security will check every posts and comments I have made (both the ones I have deleted, actually nothing gets deleted.)#WatchWhatYouPost pic.twitter.com/7HZeFBg9jJ— Godspower Egbule (@GodspowerEgbule) June 2, 2019
“US visa now requires the submission of social media accounts” pic.twitter.com/bznuPIj1lf— Kira Nicole (@kiranicoleshute) June 2, 2019
Others described the move as the US’ first steps into becoming ruled by an authoritarian government as this step is similar to ones implemented by some governments in the Middle East.
Wow. And if we think this is a Mideast trend, looks like the US visa office just added this question on one’s social media account activity to its application. Ugh!— Bessma Momani (@b_momani) May 31, 2019
HT @gsiskind pic.twitter.com/Qv4WF3uvPW
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