The United States will implement a new policy requiring most visa applicants to the country – including Australians – to disclose social media account information.
The Hill reported that as of Friday 7 June, the Trump administration will implement a new immigration policy asking most US visa applicants to disclose social media account information.
The changes, originally proposed in March 2018, are expected to effect 15 million international travellers to the US who apply for visas to enter the country each year.
Australians entering the country for periods of 90 days or less will not be required to disclose their social media account information, as they are covered under the Visa Waiver Program. However, Australians requiring visas for longer stays will be required to reveal their details.
“National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveller and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening,” the US State Department told ABC News.
“We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect US citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States.”
The new visa application form will ask travellers to surrender their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Reddit account details, including any account details they may have had in the past five years, according to ABC News.
And if you’re thinking about lying on your form: think again.
It has reported that any applicant who lies about their social media information could face “serious immigration consequences,” according to The Hill.
In 2018, when the Trump administration announced its proposal to extend visa-vetting requirements to include social media account information, civil rights unions were quick to slam the announcement.
The American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project director Hina Shamsi said at the time that there was no evidence social media monitoring is effective and that it could have a “chilling” effect on freedom of speech.
She also said that it could “promote self-censorship online.”
“This attempt to collect a massive amount of information on the social media activity of millions of visa applicants is yet another ineffective and deeply problematic Trump administration plan,” she said in a statement.
“There is a real risk that social media vetting will unfairly target immigrants and travellers from Muslim-majority countries for discriminatory visa denials, without doing anything to protect national security.”
The policy stems from a March 2017 executive order issued by President Trump intended to put “extreme vetting” in place.
This news on US visa requirements comes not long after the Brazilian government revealed it will allow visa-free entry to Australians, which will take effect later this month.