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All visa applicants will have to disclose social media accounts after new proposal

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New visa forms require all applicants to list social media handles

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

A proposed State Department form would require all US visa applicants to disclose their social media handles, according to a Bloomberg report. The requirement is significantly broader than previous filings, which had made disclosure voluntary and applied to only a portion of visa applicants identified for extra scrutiny. The public has 60 days to comment on the proposal; comments can be sent to PRA_BurdenComments@state.gov.

The new forms will list specific social media platforms and require applicants to “provide any identifiers used by applicants for those platforms during the five years preceding the date of application.” Platforms may be added or removed as the system develops.

It’s the latest in an ongoing effort to collect more information on US visitors’ social media activities as they enter the country, spurred by Congress in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is actively soliciting companies to assist in sifting through the resulting data, although no vendor has been publicly chosen to implement it.

A report from the DHS Inspector General in February 2017 found that early versions of the screening program had failed to set clear objectives, and at least one implemented tool “was not a viable option for automated social media screening and that manual review was more effective at identifying accounts.”