Immigrants' Social Media Use Will Be Surveilled by Feds

That includes permanent residents and naturalized citizens
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 26, 2017 4:04 PM CDT
Feds Plan to Collect Social Media Info of Immigrants
The Department of Homeland Security introduced a new rule that would allow it to collect social media information and search results of immigrants as "official records."   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

The Department of Homeland Security announced a new rule in the Federal Register that will allow it to collect immigrants' social media information and search results, BuzzFeed reports. And the rule doesn't just apply to new or soon-to-be immigrants. The social media accounts of green card holders, permanent residents, and naturalized citizens can be surveilled by the federal government. According to Engadget, "social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results" will be added to what DHS considers "official records" for immigrants. If DHS means things like Google search histories when it says "search results," it's unclear how it plans to obtain those, Gizmodo notes.

The rule—which goes into effect Oct. 18—has privacy and immigrant groups concerned. "This collect-it-all approach is ineffective for national security and one more example of the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant agenda," the ACLU states. Others point out the new rules don't just put immigrants under additional surveillance but anyone who communicates with immigrants on social media. Experts say there's little to no evidence social media can be used to determine if someone presents an actual threat. It is, however, good at showing people's political and religious beliefs. "Folks might share a post on social media that seems ripe for government officials to use as the hook for a conversation that starts to resemble an ideological purity test," one professor tells BuzzFeed. (In other social media news, Obama reportedly had a warning for Mark Zuckerberg.)

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