News & Politics

Applying for a Visa? Someone Is Reading Your Facebook Page

Clinton to visa applicants: "You should know that the State Department is on the watch here for Facebook."

Look out, social networkers abroad: if you're trying to get a visa to enter our fine country, you may want to get rid of your Facebook account.

In a town hall meeting at the State Department yesterday featuring the affable Hillary Clinton, an "Information Management Officer" at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City cited Facebook, MySpace, and "other web 2.0 social networking tecnologies" as "significantly enhanc(ing) the Department's diplomacy efforts and business goals," which apparently include weeding out potential immigrants.

"For example," the comically Orwellian IMO boasted:

An astute consular officer in Hermosillo recently used Facebook to determine a visa applicant's ineligibility based on information contained on the applicant's Facebook page -- (applause) -- proving its value as an anti-fraud tool. (Laughter.)

Lol!! Silly visa-seekers. Don't they know Big Brother is, like, totally plugged into the internets? Now that we have a president who actually knows how to turn on a computer, like the kids, his Secretary of State fully intends to exploit such popular border-transcendent technology to -- what else? -- enforce the border.

When asked whether she plans "to work with the Department's security stakeholders in order to navigate or mitigate the vulnerabilities of these technologies so that we may leverage their business benefits," Hillary Clinton didn't have to ask the moderator to repeat the question before responding enthusiastically:

"Yes, absolutely."


… We've got to figure out how we're going to be smarter about using technology. So I think that's a great example, the Facebook example. And you know, we might want to follow up on that example, checking out Facebook. For everybody who is applying for a visa, you just should know that the State Department is on the watch here for Facebook.

You heard it here,amigos: Time to update your status. Next up on the live feed:

Big Brother is Watching You.

Liliana Segura is a staff writer and editor of AlterNet's Rights and Liberties and War on Iraq Special Coverage.
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