Social media is ubiquitous these days, and while it can be a great way to communicate with family and friends, it’s important to keep in mind that it is largely public. Even with the use of privacy settings, DHS has used social media monitoring and vetting as a justification to approve or deny visas. They have even used social media vetting in order make determinations about citizenship. DHS now uses what they call a “shared social media screening service” to analyze data on non-citizens, and according to the Brennan Center they had prepared to screen approximately 15 million visitors’ social media accounts in 2019.
While many human rights groups are warning against the implications of curtailing free speech with such monitoring, and taking steps to advocate for better policies, it’s still important to take some precautions on social media. If you’re a non-citizen who is active on social media, there are steps you can take to ensure that you’re better protected.
Social Media: Don’t Share Everything.
While many social media platforms will try to gather as much information on you as possible, you don’t need to answer every question. Certain fields are necessary for verification. You’re under no obligation to share the name of your middle school or other personal information you don’t want to disclose. It’s recommended to treat the “about me” section on social media as “optional”. If there is information that you don’t feel comfortable putting into a public space, don’t include it.
Don’t Rely on Privacy Settings.
Absolutely do use your privacy settings. But, assuming that because your profile is set to “friends only” that it’s impossible for DHS to monitor you is inaccurate. While the ACLU has been demanding more transparency around how the government collects and monitors social media, there is still not enough openness about how and when this information is used. Therefore, caution is important.
Social media monitoring from DHS does not mean that they need to be your social media “friend” so what you consider private is relative. Activate your privacy settings but remain cautious about what information you put out there. Remember, you’re sharing with other people, even if many of them are your friends in real life. If there’s information you wouldn’t share with a stranger it’s a good idea to keep it off social media.
Be Aware of What You Say on Social Media.
Social media is a great way to share ideas, and there’s nothing wrong with being opinionated. Many advocacy groups are working hard to ensure that freedom of speech is protected, and that protection extends to social media. However, using a little caution is important. Anything that can be interpreted as a threat should obviously be avoided, but unfortunately it can be more complicated. Sometimes even jokes can be taken the wrong way. So even if you’re sure your tone is sarcastic, it’s wise not to give anyone any possibility of misunderstanding.
DHS doesn’t necessarily have a person sorting through data. They often rely on algorithms that can make mistakes, especially when interpreting tone and intent. These algorithms have programs to pick up on certain words and phrases. This means that many individuals who are posting perfectly common and appropriate things can be flagged unnecessarily. So always exercise caution, and know when to contact a lawyer.
Call Immigration Law Group!
It’s important that you know your rights and protect yourself when it comes to your social media information. With immigration law group, we can help you familiarize yourself with your rights, and we’ll advocate on your behalf. Our top rated lawyers are here to assist you and guide you on the path to citizenship. For more information, contact us today!