Attention US-bound tourists: Social media accounts subject to inspection

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(credit: Jayson Trevino)

The federal government is taking another step it says would make the US homeland safer from terrorism. US border authorities are proposing that millions of tourists entering the country each year reveal their social media identities.

The proposal from US Customs and Border Protection, announced last week in the Federal Register, would add a line to the online or paper form that US-bound visitors must fill out if they don’t have a visa and plan on staying for up to 90 days for vacation, business, or other affairs. The agency says travelers coming to the US under the Visa Waiver Program won’t be forced to disclose their social media handles, but leaving it blank obviously could raise red flags.

Here’s what will be asked: “Please enter information associated with your online presence—Provider/Platform—Social media identifier.” This field doesn’t call for additional information such as passwords, but it’s likely to yield many if applicants aren’t paying attention and overshare.

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