Report: Immigration Officials Blocked from Reviewing Visa Applicants’ Social Media Posts
Although social media postings are public, Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson refused to end a “secret” policy prohibiting immigration officials from reviewing the online posts of all foreign nationals seeking a U.S. visa in early 2014 due to concerns about “bad public relations” for the administration, according to an ABC News report.
“During that time period immigration officials were not allowed to use or review social media as part of the screening process,” John Cohen, a former acting under-secretary at DHS for intelligence and analysis who left in June 2014, told ABC News.
A current and a former senior counter-terrorism official confirmed Cohen’s account to ABC News. And while DHS spokeswoman Marsha Catron told the media outlet that in the fall of 2014 the department began three pilot programs to include social media posts as part of the clearance process, officials told ABC such a polity is not broad.
According to Cohen, immigration officials advocated for a change in the social media policy, however the idea was rejected due to concerns “that it would be viewed negatively if it was disclosed publicly and there were concerns that it would be embarrassing.”