Want to visit the US? Hand over your social media names

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It’s official: Trump wants your Twitter handle. And your Facebook username. And any other online identity you’ve possessed over the past five years. 

Not to keep, mind you: they’ll be used to decide whether or not you can obtain a visa to visit or work in the US.

Reuters reports that the Trump administration is now asking US visa applicants worldwide to submit those social media handles, as well as biographical information for the past 15 years, as part of a new questionnaire (PDF) — one that could deny you a visa if they don’t like what they see, or perhaps even if you leave the section blank.

(According to the form, the answers are “voluntary,” and yet “Individuals who fail to submit this form or who do not provide all the requested information may be denied a U.S. visa.” We’ve contacted the State Department to ask more specifically about the risks of not providing info.) 

It’s not necessarily everyone who’ll need to submit the info, however: according to the Office of Management and Budget, which approved the questionnaire for the next 180 days, it will only be handed out to people who “present a threat profile” and require “enhanced screening.” They expect it’ll affect 65,000 people a year, or roughly 0.5 percent of visa applicants. 

It’ll be odd if the country which wrote the First Amendment into law decides to deny people entry based on what they’ve said. Five years of social media history can get anyone in trouble

Read more at our sister site ZDNet.

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