New US visa application requires your social media information

PHOTO: Pixabay/Gerd Altmann

In an eye-rolling extension of “all your base is belong to us” totalitarianism, applying for a US visa now involves giving up your social media information.

While most people probably don’t need a social media cleaning service to sanitise their shitposts, the new system also asks “most” applicants for five years’ worth of previous email addresses and phone numbers.

Travelling to the US these days is stressful enough as a non-citizen, but this is just getting more and more cringeworthy. With regard to Asia, if you’re not from Singapore, Brunei, Japan, South Korea, or Taiwan, chances are you’ll need a visa to enter the land of the free.

Platforms on the drop-down menu include a plethora of Chinese social media companies, including Tencent’s Sina and Weibo, Youku, Douban, Russia’s Vkontakte (ВКонтактe), and even Reddit and LinkedIn. MySpace, which has been dead for some time, is also mysteriously included, perhaps reflecting US regulators’ current knowledge of social media (we see Vine — rest in peace — but where’s TikTok on this list?!). Even Pinterest and Flickr aren’t safe.

“This is a critical step forward in establishing enhanced vetting of foreign nationals seeking entry into the United States," a Department of State official told The Hill. "As we’ve seen around the world in recent years, social media can be a major forum for terrorist sentiment and activity. This will be a vital tool to screen out terrorists, public safety threats, and other dangerous individuals from gaining immigration benefits and setting foot on U.S. soil."

These changes are a result of Trump’s 2017 executive orders to enact “extreme vetting” measures. In any case, if you’re planning to travel to the US anytime soon, you might need to clean house for Uncle Sam, especially if you’re fond of retweeting Trump-hating memes (let’s be real, the jokes write themselves).

 

alexisong@asiaone.com

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