Feds in the DMs: DHS Now Wants to Collect Social Media Info From All US Immigrants

Kote Baeza/Creative Commons
Kote Baeza/Creative Commons

Federal officials have set in motion a new rule that allows the government to collect social media from all immigrants—including people who are already permanent residents and naturalized citizens.

The regulation was published in the Federal Register last week by the Department of Homeland Security and was first reported by BuzzFeed News.

The guidelines state that “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results” will be part of people’s immigration files. The rule is scheduled to go into effect Oct. 18.


As The Hill points out, the rule is an escalation of a prior Trump-administration decision, in which a request for social media accounts was added to a new questionnaire that would be given to all visa applicants.

This new rule, however, is more comprehensive and wouldn’t apply just to new applicants. Legal residents of the U.S., as well as naturalized Americans, would now have to submit social media info to the government.

As BuzzFeed reports, the new DHS rule is concerning for privacy advocates, and security and immigration experts say that there is no evidence that obtaining social media information helps with vetting immigrants. Instead, the social media and internet histories the federal government obtains could be used to assess the personal and political views of U.S. citizens and foreigners.

“The question is, do we really want the government monitoring political views?” Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security program, told BuzzFeed.


“Social media may not be able to predict violence,” he said, “but it can certainly tell you a lot about a person’s political and religious views.”

Read more at BuzzFeed News and The Hill.

Staff writer, The Root.

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This has to be a scheme to find some use for all the old abandoned Wal-Mart buildings across the Midwest. Because I cannot IMAGINE the amount of physical storage space needed to house this shit.

DHS and USCIS still use mostly paper records anyway. Meaning this shit will be printed and placed in physical files.

I was in an interview recently where the dude’s file was thicker than my 1000+ page US codebook. One dude. In his 20s. With a very normal immigration history.

I can’t imagine what it would have looked like if it had contained his social media presence as well. Goddamn this is fucking hilarious. (I laugh to keep from crying because actually this is horrible and security theater at its most ostentatious.)