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U.S Visa Applicants to be Reviewed Using Social Media

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In the wake of the San Bernadino shootings, White House spokesman Josh Earnest has said that homeland security and state departments have been asked to review the process for screening visa applicants. This is said to involve looking at potential citizens' Facebook and other social media profiles in order to get a more comprehensive character background. The reviews come after news that Tashfeen Malik, one of the shooters in California earlier this month, was granted a K-1 visa (fiance visa) despite radical posts on social media.

Malik, who (accompanied by her husband Syed Farook) killed 14 people in the San Bernadino massacre on Dec 2nd, had used an alias on Facebook to pledge allegiance to ISIS and to post worrying content about jihad and martyrdom. Despite comprehensive background checks, Malik's social media output wasn't monitored, and therefore her potential radicalism was not ascertained before her heinous crime.

"I think the president's top priority here is the national security and safety of the American people," Mr Earnest said. "And that will continue to be the case with ensuring that this K-1 visa programme is effectively implemented." This is likely to include new recommendations from the Department of Homeland Security in order to tighten the security gap. A specific time frame was not given, but Earnest said that "The president is feeling a sense of urgency about this."

Social media regulations are pretty strict across most platforms, but usually require an official request for information. At Facebook, law enforcement officers may do so through an online form. Content from a person’s account may be revealed if law enforcement can show probable cause through a search warrant. The only exception is in the case of emergency requests, that will be considered if there is “imminent harm to a child or risk of death or serious physical injury to any person,” Facebook said.



SMF rookie, fresh out of academia, looking forward to more creative ventures. With a love of current affairs, green tea and an ever insatiable wanderlust, Katie is ready to have her voice heard. Follow her @KatieAtSMF


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U.S Visa Applicants to be Reviewed Using Social Media Reviewed by Katie Gascoyne on Friday, December 18, 2015 Rating: 5

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