Various organizations have started to in include social media background check as one of the processes in hiring. And the government of the United States is starting to enforce this method as an effort to minimize the possibility of terrorists sneaking into the country. Reportedly, the new policy will have their targeted visa applicants submitting their social media information to the State Department officials.
Although this new method is being enforced, only a small number of travelers are affected: 65,000 out of 13,000,000 yearly visa applicants to be exact. Therefore, questions had raised and most people question: is this an effective solution?
There is some information that the selected visa applicants have to provide such as social media accounts, phone numbers and email addresses which have been used in the past 5 years. In addition, information including travel history, travel fund’s source, employment records and passport numbers from the past 15 years are also listed in the questionnaire.
Average citizens should not worry about anything as this extra step of security will be focusing and enforcing on the travelers who are suspicious and identified as “high risk” by the State Department officials.
Consular offices across the globe will be carrying out the necessity, as applicable. Technically, the visa applicants are eligible to reserve their digital information. However, it will jeopardize the application process for the travelers, as their requests might be postponed or rejected, as advised by the State Department.
Furthermore, some people are concern about submitting their social media passwords, and to put this discussion to rest, the government doesn’t need the selected applicants to submit any of their social media passwords. This is rational action because making the applicants to share their social media passwords as compulsory, another problem comes up – cybersecurity.
Before we go any further, we need to understand that, just like most countries, the United States is entitled to request for information from incoming visitors as one of the conditions to enter the country. Therefore, the utmost important question that the policymaker should answer is: Will this clause be able to promote America’s security effectively?
Although this new method is going to provide valuable data to the State intelligence agencies, the government must contemplate between the program’s cost and benefits. It is creative and smart to in look into social media, it provides much more information, so much so that it might weaken the official’s ability to figure out the real threats.
Originally, the Department of Homeland Security was trying to put this vetting program on auto-pilot, but the result was not as accurate as predicted, making this “not a practical option”. Alternatively, intelligence analysts are needed to involve in manual checking, which is more time-consuming. Average, it takes the analyst to go through the questions and data on one new applicant, according to the findings from the Office of Management and Budget.
And with more than 10 million visa applications filed annually, it is almost impossible to utilize social media checking broadly. Luckily, this new setting is only targeting those “high risk” travelers, as reported. However, with 65,000 hours of work for the vetting and intelligence analysts, the government is urged to provide sufficient resources in order to proceed new tasks without putting other operations at risk.
The government should also look for alternatives in eliminating potential terrorism. Instead of spending hours to analyze the applicant’s background, is may be more effective to spend the manpower and resources in capturing and stopping potential risk that is growing in the homeland?
This new vetting process is useful in its own way, and the United States’ government should continue to improve the system. Politicians who are in power must ensure that all new measures are effective, in order to make the country a safer place to live.