The U.S. government has begun requesting foreign travelers to submit social media activities information to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) before traveling into the country, as part of broader efforts to spot potential terrorist threats.
The request functions as part of online Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) or form I-94, a visa waiver application that many visitors are required to submit before travelling to the US. The choices include social media platform such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube, as well as additional space for applicants to volunteer other lesser-known platforms together with their account names on those sites.
While the CBP began this practise last week, has previously claimed that — for now — it will not prohibit entry to applicants who decline to provide their social media account information.
The US Federal Register states that the collecting social media data was intended to:
enhance the existing investigative process and provide Department of Homeland Security (DHS) greater clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections by providing an additional tool set which analysts and investigators may use to better analyze and investigate the case.
World Socialist Web Site: US government collecting social media accounts of visitors to country, Published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI)
NewsFactor: U.S. Customs Starts To Collect Social Media Information