The Donald Trump administration has proposed to check the social media activities of Chinese visitors holding long-term US visas before they enter the US, according to the South China Morning Post on Tuesday.
Since last November, Chinese citizens holding 10-year US visas have been required to complete an Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS) form before stepping into the country. It was reported by Politico last week that the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials, an agency of the US Federal Government, has proposed to ask Chinese visitors to disclose their social media accounts and passwords on common social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. The proposal is set to collect public opinion for 60 days through the Federal Register, the official journal of the federal government of the US that contains government agency rules and proposed rules.
According CBP, the data collected by the social media check would be “used for vetting purposes, as needed, providing highly trained CBP officers with timely visibility into publicly available information on the platforms associated with the social media identifiers”, the SCMP said.
This is not a new rule targeting only Chinese visitors. The Obama administration rolled out a similar social media screening rule late last year for travelers included in the Visa Waiver Program, which includes many western countries.
The Chinese community in the US apparently has been upset by the proposed rule more than those in Chinese mainland. “We fear that proposals such as the proposed social media check will be largely ineffective as a national security screening and will serve primarily to allow the discriminatory targeting of Chinese immigrants and visitors at border checkpoints,” the Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles told the Huffington Post.
The advocacy group has previously warned that Donald Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric would help to ignite a surge in anti-Asian hate crimes in the US.