Trump proposes social media checks for Chinese visitors, but little did he know...

Trump proposes social media checks for Chinese visitors, but little did he know...
PHOTO: Reuters

The Trump administration is proposing to include Chinese holders of long-term US business and visitor visas travelling to the US to disclose what social media platforms they use, according to the website Politico.

A traveller would be asked online to identify the platforms. Answering the question would be "optional," US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in a notice set for publication on Feb 21 in the Federal Register.

Those who don't want to answer will have their travel requests processed "without a negative interpretation or inference," the notice said.

The initial iteration of the programme to collect social media handles asked travellers about profiles on sites like Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

However, residents of China tend to use other social media platforms, in part because US sites are often blocked by the Chinese government.

A CBP spokeswoman had no immediate comment on whether Chinese social media platforms would be included, Politico said.

The move to cover Chinese visitors in the social-media-focused screening comes as Trump administration officials review steps to vet foreigners seeking to enter the US, including asking for social media passwords, Politico said.

It said that the Obama administration used a similar, voluntary, social-media screening effort late last year for travellers eligible to enter the US through the Visa Waiver Program, which includes many European countries and other highly-developed nations.

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