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Homeland Security may start examining visa applicants' social media posts as part of vetting process

By midian182 ยท 15 replies
Dec 15, 2015
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  1. The Department of Homeland Security has confirmed that it is specifically reviewing its policies on when officials can examine would-be immigrants’ social media posts as part of the vetting process when applying for certain visas.

    The plan comes just weeks after a shooting at the Inland Revenue Center in San Bernadino, California, which resulted in 14 casualties. It later emerged that one of the shooters, Tashfeen Malik, had “pledged allegiance” to ISIS on several social media sites, including Facebook. Despite undergoing three separate background checks, immigration authorities reportedly failed to spot her postings when she applied for and obtained a K1, or fiance visa, when she moved to the US from Pakistan.

    Homeland Security currently only checks applicants’ social media postings ‘intermittently’ and as part of several pilot programs. The potential change comes after John Cohen, a former acting undersecretary at DHS for intelligence and analysis, told ABC News that the department refused to end a secret policy that prohibited officials from looking at visa applicants’ social media accounts in 2014.

    Cohen said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson refused to end the policy over fears of a civil liberties backlash and “bad public relations” for the Obama administration.

    But now, a DHS spokesperson has confirmed to Gizmodo that the agency is “actively considering additional ways” to vet people by scrutinizing their social media posts.

    Over the last year, under Secretary Johnson’s leadership, the Department initiated three pilot programs to specifically incorporate appropriate social media review into its vetting of applicants for certain immigration benefits.

    The Department is actively considering additional ways to incorporate the use of social media review in its various vetting programs.

    The Department will continue to ensure that any use of social media in its vetting programs is consistent with current law and appropriately takes into account civil rights and civil liberties and privacy protections.

    One problem with this policy is the sheer number posts officials would have to trawl through; the US government approved more than 9.9 million visa applications during the 2014 budget year, which makes for a lot of social media content.

    In addition to the DHS proposals, Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., introduced a bill last week that would require social media companies to report any posts that suggested malicious intent to law enforcement authorities.

    Permalink to story.

  2. 3volv3d

    3volv3d TS Addict Posts: 155   +59

    I know some people are stupid, but would not a majority of people who, want to incite trouble, use accounts not directly linked to them. And thus the next step is they want to Police the internet with another SOPA like bill. Not that they probably aren't already. Or are they confessing that, we have the means, it is rather easy, we do it all the time. =\

    I saw someone on one of them border shows, and he had deleted all his messages on his phone. Which I find amazing they get to look at your phone, messages, and pics of your wife naked in some back room for a while, deciding if you are allowed to cross into Canada.

    Which you can't... not without the wife.. :D
    Reehahs likes this.
  3. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,417   +3,434

    What a waste!
    wiyosaya likes this.
  4. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,206   +1,882

    Even more amazing is how many people are caught by the police because they are stupid enough to post video's of themselves committing crimes, to show off to their friends. The only thing that tops this is the fact that with all the NSA intrusions across the boards, that Social Media hasn't been a part of all vetting and background checks since it was first introduced. Once again, our cleverness can often be outshined by our basic stupidity.
  5. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,747   +647

    Even more stupid for them to tell everyone they are going to start checking social media in the first place. Those who have any brain at all and are also engaged in terrorist activities will either stop using social media or never use it in the first place. As I understand it, it was the lack of use of technology that made bin Laden so difficult to catch.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  6. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,417   +3,434

    Precisely why it is such a waste.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  7. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,731   +3,749

    This is like watching a bull run down a cape. Only, the matadors in this arena have a tendency to take out members of the audience on a whim.
  8. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,875   +1,206

    Except social networks are ISIS's #1 recruiting tool. They promote their message through social networks, they recruit on them, they train people on them. They use them as much as your average American high schooler.

    Not checking what social networks someone for fear of 'bad public relations' only shows where our government's priorities are.
  9. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,747   +647

    So if we assume that these people are not so stupid, then this announcement will drive at least some of them to find a more secure means of doing what they now do with FB, Twitter, and others. Should that happen, and my bet is it will, then this will only catch the not-so-smart which was my point.

    Are the not-so-smart the ones we need be most afraid of? Perhaps, but the smart ones driven further into the shadows may present even greater headaches, and "word of using only the shadows" may filter down to the not-so-smart, too.

    We have already had an example of this when ISIS posted a picture of its base on FB. You can bet they are not likely to post pictures of any of their bases again, and likewise, it would not surprise me if ISIS makes it a mandate to find shadow means of communication. Personally, I think it is a mistake to assume they are all as stupid as the one(s) who posted the picture of the ISIS base.
  10. tonylukac

    tonylukac TS Evangelist Posts: 1,366   +67

    I think they always did.
  11. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,875   +1,206

    Who they may or may not catch is not the issue. The issue is, the freaking Homeland Security Secretary specifically chose to NOT look at ISIS #1 recruiting tool just in case it MIGHT have resulted in the media saying he was violating someone's civil liberties. Think how crazy that is.
    Here we are on Techspot for months arguing about the govt spying on us and no privacy blah blah blah and all we had to do was post 'Muslim' under our religion and the govt would completely ignore us.
  12. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,747   +647

    Yes, like Homeland Security completely ignored the post about the ISIS headquarters. I see. Any other BS you have to spout?

    As I see it, religion has nothing to do with extremism - it is simple and plain as day to some. There is at least one example of a Muslim risking his life to protect others during the Paris attacks.

    Maybe I should repeat that. Extremism has nothing to do with religion, or put another way, all religions have extremist members that profess to be members of their particular religion.

    Maybe if you think honestly about that, you will understand why the creators of the US specifically included a separation of church and state.

    If you are an extremist and your religion is other than Muslim, you are more likely to be ignored by DHS in my opinion. Part of the problem, as I see it, is the media and public figures that insist on connecting extremist attacks with the Muslim religion, and give only footnotes to those of other religions also engaging in extreme acts of domestic violence such as attacks on Planned Parenthood and churches of other faiths.

    So tell me, because the Planned Parenthood and church attack from earlier this year had nothing to do with ISIS or Muslims do we just laugh off, tolerate that extremism, and pretend it does not exist? Do we prohibit law enforcement from surveilling anyone but Muslims?

    I've already had another argument with another TS member who seems to think that what is written in books like the Koran and the Bible is proper when it fits the viewpoint of the member. I am not going to argue again with you when your views fall under the definition of bigotry.

    You can blame Muslims all you want, but extremism knows no religious boundaries whether you like it or not.
  13. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,875   +1,206

    religion has nothing to do with extremism? What do you think they're 'extreme' about then? The people who believe in jihad, believe killing is justified by their religion. It's an 'extreme' interpretation, and it's why they're called 'radical' Islamists.. it's because their ideas of the religion are radical. Radical means 'drastically different from everyone else'. How on earth do you assume people who use phrases like this are grouping all Muslims together!?

    Whether you can understand this I have no idea... apparently not since you think extremism has nothing to do with religion (you know the I in ISIS stands for Islam, right?). Judging by your above response you appear to believe whatever you want regardless of what you read or see. Case in point your last line....
    I never blamed Muslims for anything! I blamed the US Homeland Secretary for not checking Facebook pages! The whole story came up because Tashfeen Malik supported Jihad all over FB before shooting up an office party. And if the dude who shot up planned parent hood applied for a VISA to enter the US from a terrorist supported country of course I'd want them to check his FB page too. Wouldn't you? Wouldn't you want to know he was a murdering b@stard BEFORE he did it?
  14. romainB

    romainB TS Enthusiast Posts: 38

    If I was running homeland security I would do the same - and I would deny access from all the people who post stupid jokes and inspirational statuses.
  15. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,417   +3,434

  16. romainB

    romainB TS Enthusiast Posts: 38

    That would be my first step, also abolishing the second amendment.

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