back to article Any social media accounts to declare? US wants travelers to tell

The US Department of State wants to ask visa applicants to provide details on the social media accounts they've used in the past five years, as well as telephone numbers, email addresses, and international travel during this period. The plan, if approved by the Office of Management and Budget, will expand the vetting regime …

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  1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

    I agree with Malia. Hell, I'm a citizen, an information pack-rat and I'd be hard put to fill in some of that information. They aren't applying for a security clearance, I hope. That seems to be the standard applied.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      I agree with you and Malia. If I weren't a citizen they probably wouldn't let me in. No social network, AOLHell for email, cellphone that only makes phone calls and no home phone. Oh.. and I don't shop on Ebay or Amazon. I'd be suspect immediately but since I'm a citizen, I'm probably being un-American.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        I vent my spleen on USENET all the time, shun 'social media' (I don't consider El Reg comments to be 'social media'), block cookies and script, do what I can to avoid tracking by online stores, and own a 'dumb phone' that I rarely use [it's pre-paid a year at a time, uber cheap that way].

        Fortunately U.S. citizens aren't asked that question. [if that ever changes, my answer will always be "pack sand"]

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "(I don't consider El Reg comments to be 'social media')"

          Yes, and from the article...

          "For social media platforms not on the list, visa applicants "will be given the option to provide information."

          I wonder if the option to own up to "other" social media platform will include a legal definition of what they consider to be "social platforms"? Or is this designed, like some other immigration questions, to be very difficult if to impossible to answer so they can have a ready made excuse to deny entry to anyone they don't like the look of?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Comment withheld for moderation

      2. Slx

        They'll want your TheRegister handle ...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          That's why I post anonymously!

          1. Joe Werner

            I wouldn't call this "social" media - for me this is work ;p

    2. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

      Do I have to declare my silver commentard badge?

  2. frank ly Silver badge

    What about the El Reg commentardiat?

    Does that count as a social media account? (Or is it a subversive organisation?)

    1. Ole Juul Silver badge

      Re: What about the El Reg commentardiat?

      El Reg is certainly on my list of what I call social media. I'd have to declare some Forums as well. However, I wonder what they'd think of my personal number one social media, which is IRC.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What about the El Reg commentardiat?

        El Reg is certainly on my list of what I call social media

        Nothing social here, buggerit.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about the El Reg commentardiat?

      Social Media The Register (https://forums.theregister.co.uk/)

      My Username: "Anonymous Coward"

      1. IceC0ld Bronze badge

        Re: What about the El Reg commentardiat?

        Re: What about the El Reg commentardiat?

        Social Media The Register (https://forums.theregister.co.uk/)

        My Username: "Anonymous Coward"

        bearing in mind some of the comments posted under 'AC' that may not be the most expeditious path to gaining entry to the USofA. Gitmo however .....................................

    3. Steve Knox Silver badge

      Re: What about the El Reg commentardiat?

      I've always considered it more of an antisocial media account.

    4. Haku

      Re: What about the El Reg commentardiat?

      Good point, frank ly, what constitutes "social media"?

      There are many websites dedicated to specific interests / hobbies / jobs etc. which have dedicated forums to their specific subject, and most of them have a "general chat" subsection where any topic within reason can be discussed.

      Does that mean there are potentially hundreds of thousands / millions of social media websites?

    5. Ted Treen

      Re: What about the El Reg commentardiat?

      If it's NOT subversive I want my money back.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: What about the El Reg commentardiat?

        DHS Official: You appear to have an account at The Register?

        Traveller: er.. Yes

        DHS Official: Would you follow me please. You can leave your belongings there, this won't take long.

        As the Official leads the Traveller to a screened off area, he takes a pair of rubber gloves from is pocket...

    6. LDS Silver badge

      El Reg? EU should ask for NRA membership

      I think EU should start to ask Yankees to disclose if they are member of the NRA, and how many guns they own. Disclosing any membership in groups that are nativist, ultra-nationalist, racist, supremacist, neonazist, etc. should also be required. A subscription to Breitbart would count...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: El Reg? EU should ask for NRA membership

        I think EU should start to ask Yankees to disclose if they are member of the NRA, and how many guns they own.

        That would be nice. But it would require a spine, and I can't see the EU or national politicians having one.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: El Reg? EU should ask for NRA membership

        Not a member, 4, one was a gift, one inherited, two I bought. I belong to a traditional skills group, we learn how to camp with no tools; make fire, filter water, build shelters, what is edible, small animal traps, coordinates. I always pull over to help at accidents unless professionals are already there as I have first aid/CPR training, As well as these groups over the years; Lifeguard, road racing (on tracks), martial arts, security, electronics, IT security, and was a great Q2/3 player. Can I visit, or will my Rail god skills make you feel insecure?

    7. Adair

      Re: What about the El Reg commentardiat?

      Just highlights the complete bullshit of the demand and the neurotic paranoia that lies behind it. No different to asking: 'Are you, or have you ever been, a terrorist?

      This kind of imbecilic bureaucratic thinking is no different to asking 'Have you stopped beating your wife?'

      If the US wants to operate at this level of stupid they really don't deserve to have anyone visiting the 'Land of the Free' (TM). There are far more worthy places where I can spend my time and money, even if only in transit.

      I now travel via the East and have done for some years, initially to avoid the 'failed state' while they persist in their arrogance and stupidity at the border, but now because the experience is simply so much more civilised.

      [Rant over]

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What about the El Reg commentardiat?

        "Are you, or have you ever been, a terrorist?"

        As far as I'm aware, many "stupid" questions in this vein are asked simply because if it's later shown that they were lying on the form, it makes it legally easier for the US authorities to throw them out of the country or whatever.

        1. Adair

          Re: What about the El Reg commentardiat?

          I'm sure you are right, but the question is: what constitutes a 'terrorist'?

          And, seriously, who is going to answer 'Yes'?

          In fact such a question is brain-dead idiocy, and any country demanding an answer to such a question fully deserves all the mockery and contempt that is heaped upon them. They make themselves look ridiculous, and do nothing at all to uphold national security.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Are you, or have you ever been, a terrorist?"

          Did Nelson Mandela ever get to visit the US?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What about the El Reg commentardiat?

        Brings to mind one of the tick-box questions on the student visa application form, I'm paraphrasing cos my memory is shite, but it goes something like:

        "Are you entering the country with the intention of overthrowing the government? [Y] [N] "

        Well, shucks! You got me there.... <tick>

        It later says:

        "Answering YES to any of the questions in section (whatever) may delay processing of your application"

        I'm keeping my judgements to myself.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trump slump

    That's what they're calling the drop in inbound tourism. It's not going to get better at this rate...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trump slump

      Yep. I've been to the USA more times than I can remember since the mid 1970's. I've even worked there (legally) for a couple of years.

      However while Trump is in the Whitehouse, I'm not going there.

      Shame really because most of the people are great. Most of my friends are resigned to another 6 years of him and several are actively looking at leaving. Canada is high on their list of places to move to. As they are in Upstate New York, or New Hampshire, it is not that far anyway.

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Trump slump

        I stopped going when they introduced fingerprinting and charging. The visitor hostility has been ratcheting up for some considerable time - Trump is just continuing the historic pattern.

      2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        Re: Trump slump

        I just transited via the USA going out and coming back, and my ESTA application invited me to tell all on my social media. I wondered if it would be the last time that would be a request. On my arrival at my destination, I met several others from Europe who had gone via Singapore or Tokyo or China or Dubai, so as NOT to transit through the States, and I realised I hadn't saved that much time or money.

        My transit included two nights (one outbound one inbound) at a US airport hotel. That, plus spending, wasn't exactly a huge contribution of tourist dollars to the USA, but the next trip that takes me to the Pacific will see me going to ther way and the US won't even get my wee mite. Because it ain't worf it.

        1. djstardust Silver badge

          Re: Trump slump

          Well it is supposed to be the greatest country on Earth. They can keep it to themselves.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        As one Canadian guy said, "Canada is not your f------ safety school"

        "Most of my friends are [..] actively looking at leaving. Canada is high on their list of places to move to."

        How many of those people are actually interested in moving to Canada because they have an interest in the country and culture in its own right? In how they can contribute to *its* society and how they'd fit in?

        And how many are the types who only mention Canada when they run into problems with their own country's political system, who only think about its existence in terms of being an escape route for disillusioned Americans like themselves, who don't pay much attention to it otherwise and assume it's just like a "liberal utopia" version of the US? Who implicitly assume- because it hasn't even occurred otherwise to them- that they'll not only be allowed in but welcomed with open arms because they're "good" Americans?

        And then forget about it again until the next election, because it's too much work and they were never *really* interested in Canada?

        (Disclaimer; I'm not Canadian, but I'd already noticed- and made similar comments on- this attitude when I came across this article- which *is* by a Canadian. It's definitely not anti-American as such, but it's a nice dose of reality for the "I'm going to move to Canada if X gets elected!" crowd).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: As one Canadian guy said, "Canada is not your f------ safety school"

          "Most of my friends are [..] actively looking at leaving. Canada is high on their list of places to move to."

          Too bad the Canadians don't really want any more Americans. They tend to be a bit volatile, regardless of political affiliation

        2. KBeee

          Re: As one Canadian guy said, "Canada is not your f------ safety school"

          There does seem to be an assumption that the US can limit or stop people moving to live there, but woe betide any Country trying to stop a US citizen from relocating.

  4. Trigonoceps occipitalis

    This will deter foreign citizens from wanting to come to the US

    Bloody well deters me and I'm mostly in the nothing to hide category - not so sure about nothing to fear.

    1. Marshalltown

      Re: This will deter foreign citizens from wanting to come to the US

      It deters me and I'm a citizen.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This will deter foreign citizens from wanting to come to the US

      It'll probably be OK if you have a lot of money

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This will deter foreign citizens from wanting to come to the US

      Me too. It’s a shame because a sizeable minority of Americans are very decent people...those that don’t vote for the warmongers Trump or Clinton.

  5. Richard Jones 1
    FAIL

    I've Heard of Bucket Lists But The US must Want to be The Slop Bowl of Undesirable Locations

    I used to visit the USA in the 1980s, but I moved on from those roles and with the move I broke the association. I have probably had 5 passports over the years I doubt I could find the number on more than 1 or 2. In addition to such now undesirable locations as the USA I have also lived in, visited, or passed through a range of locations such as The Lebanon, Iran, Bangladesh, Italy Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Sweden, France, A middle East Kingdom, India, Japan, Canada and maybe a few others; time weakens the memory. Could I ever be bothered to dig through old memories or lost in the dust of time dates to fill out their dumb form? No chance. Trump should should just put up a simple sign saying, closed to visitors. As for social networking wot's that?

    The last five years is easy data is easy, I've barely been out of the house so travelling across the pond is just not going to happen without anyone making it the least desirable location on earth

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: I've Heard of Bucket Lists But The US must Want to be The Slop Bowl of Undesirable Locations

      France?! You quisling! Officer, arrest this man.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    its optional....

    The thing is, as a foreign visitor you are not entitled to enter the USA. They have a right to filter out any people they don't want based on any reason they can think of.....

    If you do not like the intrusion of the questions they ask before you are allowed in, then dot go to the USA..

    they can look at my social media accounts if they like. My twitter account is mostly me just insulting piers morgan....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: its optional....

      so then,

      let them ask those silly questions at departure airport, before boarding the aircraft so you don't have to pack up and piss off again.

      1. ITS Retired

        Re: its optional....

        No, no, no... That would not be enough hassle. You have to arrive at our border first, so they can then refuse entry. After the refusal for entry, you have to spend hours, or even days, waiting for the flight back -- Both ways on your dime of course.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: its optional....

          In Calgary airport (& others in Canadaland) you go through US customs first, all done on self serve terminals, a friend of mine has a NEXUS fast track pass.

          As I hold both UK & Canada passports, it's a relatively stress free & easy experience if I use the Canadian one, my wife had to jump through the additional hoop to get her ESTA valid for two years as she only travels on her UK one.

          I met Norman Lovett (Holly from Red Dwarf) in 2016 at a convention, he just hoped he'd get his moneys worth out of his ESTA, by not dying before he had to renew it\attend another convention.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: its optional....

        let them ask those silly questions at departure airport, before boarding the aircraft so you don't have to pack up and piss off again.

        That did actually happen to me once. At Toronto airport, you may go through US customs and passport control BEFORE you get on the flight to the USA. Makes it easier when you get there, because it arrives the same as a domestic flight.

        It's only the idiots who show up forty minutes before the flight who have problems with this. A bunch of such nasty americans tried to push their way to the front of the line "because their flight was boarding" but we wouldn't let them. Your poor planning is not my problem

    2. th3ro

      Re: its optional....

      It's not optional if you're travelling on business at the request of your employer.

      1. andersenep

        Re: its optional....

        @th3ro:

        yes, it is. if you don't like what your employer requires of you, then fucking quit. it's that simple.

      2. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: its optional....

        > It's not optional if you're travelling on business at the request of your employer.

        Since no-one not a US citizen can guarantee that they will be allowed entry to the USA, how can any employer reasonably expect any employee who is not a US citizen to be able to enter the US and thus predicate employment on being able to enter the US?

      3. d3vy Silver badge

        Re: its optional....

        "It's not optional if you're travelling on business at the request of your employer."

        It very much is.

        I've refused to drive an hour our of my way before so you can most definitely opt out of travelling further,

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: its optional....

          "It's not optional if you're travelling on business at the request of your employer."

          It very much is.

          I've refused to drive an hour our of my way before so you can most definitely opt out of travelling further,

          What about the part where they refuse to be your employer any longer?

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