New visa rules on social media
June 2, 2019 7:53 AM   Subscribe

Want a Visa for the U.S.? You’ll Have to Hand Over Your Social Media Handles The vast majority of applicants for U.S. visas will now have to hand over their social media usernames along with previous email addresses and phone numbers, according to a newly imposed rule. Applicants for pretty much all visas, except for certain diplomatic and official ones, will have to give five years’ worth of phone numbers, email addresses, and social media handles as part of the application process.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis (81 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
Looks like I won't be back to the States for a while, then...
posted by mumimor at 7:55 AM on June 2 [24 favorites]


does that also mean that if you don't use social media, you would have to sign up for things like facebook/twitter/instagram and whatnot in order to get a US Visa?
posted by honor the agreement at 7:58 AM on June 2 [8 favorites]


A reminder that the wall isn't to keep people out. It's to keep people in.

As a child, I wondered about why Jews didn't leave Weimar Germany as the situation worsened. As an adult, I understand better.
posted by kokaku at 7:59 AM on June 2 [75 favorites]


It looks like it would be another avenue for abuse. If you were lying about not having social media they could revoke or deny you a visa, but how would they know? So if you say well I don't have an email or facebook they can say "well you're clearly lying- denied!"
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:00 AM on June 2 [8 favorites]


Yeah, that's what I was wondering too. on the "are you forced to have social media and turn it over" thing.

I am signed up for some social media but I haven't used it in years. I'd love to delete it all entirely except for the people who complain that you absolutely have to have it and god forbid you not have it (for situations like this, I guess?), so I have basically abandoned the stupid things but they technically exist, with little to no helpful info for potential harassment, for that reason.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:17 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]


but how would they know?

Random checks at the airport where you have to unlock your device.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 9:21 AM on June 2 [3 favorites]


The ACLU is vowing to fight this- and they should, the enforcement of this is going to be lousy with bullshit. Same ethnic group (ie white) as the immigration official? Oh you’re fine! Not the same ethnic group as immigration official? “Well I see you criticized the president two years ago on twitter visa revoked!” It’s going to be a shit show.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:22 AM on June 2 [66 favorites]


I hate this.
posted by great_radio at 9:26 AM on June 2 [12 favorites]


Appalling and ominous.

A reminder that the wall isn't to keep people out. It's to keep people in.

I think this is one of those statements that demands a little more detail or explanation.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:34 AM on June 2 [38 favorites]


Fuck off, you tired, you poor,
You huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
I lift my middle finger beside the golden door!
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:35 AM on June 2 [38 favorites]


You’ll take my sock puppets off my cold, dead hands.
posted by Segundus at 9:35 AM on June 2 [28 favorites]


This will be a vital tool to screen out terrorists, public safety threats, and other dangerous individuals

Lol, what if they do a better job of it than Twitter?
posted by chavenet at 9:37 AM on June 2 [12 favorites]


Once in a while I tweet about the human rights abuses at the border; the concentration camps, the deaths of children, the inhumanity of a refugee crisis partly provoked by US policy. I also write a magazine column where I occasionally talk about these things. I also have family living in the US (naturalized) that I visit regularly. Should I just stop tweeting and writing? Will this comment in Metafilter alone incriminate me? Should I just delete everything and stay silent?
posted by Omon Ra at 9:37 AM on June 2 [19 favorites]


This is fucking bullshit. Half my coworkers are foreign nationals in the US on various sorts of visas, mostly J-1. The absolutely ridiculous amount of shit they have to go through to bring their skills and expertise to the US is unbelievable. These are people with Ph.D.s, ostensibly the some of the "good ones" that even most anti-immigrant politicians say they want. The strong state of scientific research in the US depends on being an attractive place for the brightest talents from around the world to want to come to train, work, and bring their skills (and from a geopolitical perspective, American soft power) back to their home countries.

My university, and every university I've ever worked at, has an entire office full of people whose full-time jobs it is to help foreign students and workers navigate the byzantine twists and turns of the immigration system. When people ask why the costs of higher education are rising, this is at least a small part of the answer.

My friends already talk about how the changing environment of the US with respect to visas and immigration makes them reconsider their career plans to continue working here. Being forced to disclose their social media accounts isn't going to be the thing that makes them decide to leave, but it will certainly be one of the thousand cuts.
posted by biogeo at 9:38 AM on June 2 [46 favorites]


does that also mean that if you don't use social media, you would have to sign up for things like facebook/twitter/instagram and whatnot in order to get a US Visa?

you may well have to. I don't have a smartphone, don't use the popular apps from the Facebook group of companies - IG, FB, Wassap - and google's blocked me from having a profile from the true nym war days, so only being on twitter implies I'm a bot rather than a human. some concern trolling to this effect was recently conducted at my place of work, with my boss receiving a request to provide evidence that I was a real person.
posted by hugbucket at 9:42 AM on June 2 [12 favorites]


“Well I see you criticized the president two years ago on twitter visa revoked!”

this is exactly why the above request i mentioned was received up here in the arctics... could they tell that I was sane? was I russian? could I be a chinese spy? perhaps my twitter account was being run by a team of agitators? paranoid dumbfucks
posted by hugbucket at 9:45 AM on June 2 [3 favorites]


Once in a while I tweet about the human rights abuses at the border; the concentration camps, the deaths of children, the inhumanity of a refugee crisis partly provoked by US policy. I also write a magazine column where I occasionally talk about these things. I also have family living in the US (naturalized) that I visit regularly. Should I just stop tweeting and writing? Will this comment in Metafilter alone incriminate me? Should I just delete everything and stay silent?

This is exactly where I'm at right now, mulling over answers to your questions, and having gone as far as to give up my old mefi account with 10,000 comments openly available for analysis
posted by hugbucket at 9:47 AM on June 2 [5 favorites]


Sure, no problem, here's my twitter account, livejournal, ducksters, and of course my metafilter account.
posted by sfenders at 9:51 AM on June 2 [15 favorites]



> A reminder that the wall isn't to keep people out. It's to keep people in.

I think this is one of those statements that demands a little more detail or explanation.


Policies that make it harder for people to get into the country don't take much tweaking to make it harder for people to get out of the country. For example, to get a passport, we need to be able to see your social media accounts.

After all, what's the point of having control over a country, if people are allowed to leave? Wouldn't want them visiting other countries and seeing what a non-authoritarian, non-shitshow looks like.

Of course, this internal restriction wouldn't be applied to wealthy white folks, or maybe white folks at all, but everyone else...
posted by kokaku at 9:54 AM on June 2 [16 favorites]


So if you say well I don't have an email or facebook they can say "well you're clearly lying- denied!"

Perhaps you're not aware, but they don't need a reason to deny a visa. The State Dept. is not answerable to anyone WRT issuing visas. Sometimes they may accommodate a member of Congress if they feel like it (look up "the Senator from Boeing,") but they don't have to. As for ordinary applicants or US citizens who are trying to help them, there is no reason for State to give a reason for denial, or even listen to an appeal.

As for social media, I only have a LinkedIn account, which I don't use, and I don't know the password. So, when they start applying these rules to returning citizens, I be screwed.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:07 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]


So, when they start applying these rules to returning citizens, I be screwed.
I'm pretty sure that returning citizens have a constitutional right to enter the country. They could deny you a passport, though, which would mean you couldn't leave in the first place, but I'm not sure there's any reason to assume that's going to happen. This is enough of a nightmare if it just targets people who want visas to come to the US.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:18 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]


Policies that make it harder for people to get into the country don't take much tweaking to make it harder for people to get out of the country.

not only that, but if we demand this information from citizens of country x, why shouldn't country x require it of us?

i'm seriously wondering if trump is intending to isolate the USA from the rest of the world - this is certainly one way to go about it
posted by pyramid termite at 10:27 AM on June 2 [16 favorites]


Man, this is gonna play havoc with Silicon Valley. Which, y'know, might be part of the plan. Trump seems to have a regular hate-on for the big tech companies, so why not monkeywrench the workers' visas?
posted by Thorzdad at 10:28 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]


The H1-B workers, makes me ponder something. China has their strong state censorship regime. Will the US abuse its authority on workers like that (and others with a strong national competition to FB itself - not sure what other nation with high numbers of US H1-B visas have a national alternative to FB/Twitter. I imagine Russia (ZheZhe and uh, the other one) and Iran (does it have its own social network?). AFAIK, India doesn't have much competition there? I mean, what with the FB Blimps and all. But are there national competitive networks that act as big brother?

Will we be seeing a sort of international subpoena/request system for all social network info between totalitarian states to authorize movement/travel between borders? Oh you don't have FB, but that's cuz you're Chinese and use Weibo. HEY CHINA! ITS YOUR BUDDY TRUMP, WHATS THIS DUDE GOT?

Of course, if their low social score is a metric to go by, it would probably be in China's interest to lie and say "nope, go right ahead and take this los... we mean winner - totally clean and cool"

This would assume they're thinking that far ahead, but even if they aren't... It sure seems to be building conditions for more invasive international travel.

God I hate the internet. God I hate Republicans. God I hate Xenophobes.

The internet was supposed to cure this shit, but the stalwart defenders were fighting the wrong battles it seems.
posted by symbioid at 10:34 AM on June 2 [17 favorites]


i'm seriously wondering if trump is intending to isolate the USA from the rest of the world

I mean, he's buddies with some very isolationist countries as well; I'm no Russia expert, and regardless of what you think about Russian intervention in elections, Russia is apparently the model country Trump is trying to mold the US into -- a wide divide between economic classes, special protections for plutocrats and oligarchs, really restricted international trade limited to best buddies, relies on exploiting vast natural resources to keep economy going, reacts with military when it wants things done, media is restricted to propaganda.
posted by AzraelBrown at 10:45 AM on June 2 [12 favorites]


That is fucked up.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:48 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]


This is fucking bullshit. Half my coworkers are foreign nationals in the US on various sorts of visas, mostly J-1. The absolutely ridiculous amount of shit they have to go through to bring their skills and expertise to the US is unbelievable. These are people with Ph.D.s, ostensibly the some of the "good ones" that even most anti-immigrant politicians say they want. The strong state of scientific research in the US depends on being an attractive place for the brightest talents from around the world to want to come to train, work, and bring their skills (and from a geopolitical perspective, American soft power) back to their home countries.

Fortunately, US tech companies are also exporting and encouraging this bullshit the world over so it shouldn't impact American competitiveness too badly.
posted by srboisvert at 10:49 AM on June 2 [3 favorites]


Welcome to the future! Forget about flying cars, here's the oppressive cyberpunk dystopia you've been promised. Not being on social media is suspicious. Not using a smartphone is suspicious.
posted by Tom-B at 11:04 AM on June 2 [9 favorites]


The internet was supposed to cure this shit

...and then a bunch of folks (completely inexplicably, I remember thinking at the time) just meekly handed over their address books to the Facebook Corporation when asked to, and now here we are.
posted by flabdablet at 11:07 AM on June 2 [12 favorites]


> For now the form only includes the most popular social media platforms, but soon applicants will be able to list all the sites they use.

That definitely seems like a way to catch people "lying." Especially anyone involved in tech or media work.

Like, do Yelp and Foursquare count? Quora and Stack Overflow? The dating apps? Some random forum where I set up an account to see a locked post? What about things like Slack where you might have multiple accounts with different handles in different orgs?

I'm not even sure I can list all my email addresses. I'm a freelancer, and occasionally a client will give me an internal email, but sometimes we'll both sort of forget about it. I think I have some university alumni addresses but not sure if they're active or what they are. I do some tech journalism, so a lot of times I'll set up an account on a platform to test it out and then never use it again.

Also not sure if my ISP login I use to pay my bill is also an email address. Sometimes I'll set up a random web hosting account for a project, and I'm not sure if those come with email addresses either. Pretty sure I have some inactive Gmail accounts too, and a couple novelty Twitters I never really used.
posted by smelendez at 11:16 AM on June 2 [12 favorites]


Man, this is gonna play havoc with Silicon Valley. Which, y'know, might be part of the plan. Trump seems to have a regular hate-on for the big tech companies, so why not monkeywrench the workers' visas?

Bezos, Apple, Google's leadership, etc. will almost certainly side wholesale w/fascism should it arrive in the US in its unvarnished form - but I'd love to see them fire a shot across Trump's bow by shutting down all federal AWS or Gmail access for a week, quietly doxxing administration members, bricking their iPhones, etc. Seeing Trump and Silcon Valley club one another brutally, while unlikely, would be very, very sweet.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:17 AM on June 2 [11 favorites]


This will be a vital tool to screen out terrorists, public safety threats, and other dangerous individuals from gaining immigration benefits and setting foot on U.S. soil.

Do would-be terrorists hoping to get into the USA generally post stuff like "Can't wait to blow up the White House!" to their Facebook accounts beforehand?

I would like to see what sort of internet activity gets you a red flag and see how that compares to the shit Americans post every day.

For now the form only includes the most popular social media platforms, but soon applicants will be able to list all the sites they use.

They will want to know your MetaFilter names, you five-dollar potential terrorists. And that means all of your MetaFilter names, you dodgy Brand-New-Day-istas.
posted by pracowity at 11:17 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]


I can't even find the exact list of which social media platforms are included. The Federal Register for the proposed rule making says
One question lists multiple social media platforms and requires the applicant to provide any identifiers used by applicants for those platforms during the five years preceding the date of application. The platforms listed may be updated by the Department by adding or removing platforms.
So good luck finding out what you need before you even apply, and hope they don't change the list between when you apply and when they review it.
posted by M-x shell at 11:25 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]


Looks like I won't be back to the States for a while, then...

That's nice for you, I guess? I (immigrant and now naturalized citizen) live in the US with my wife and young child; my parents visit from India to see their grandkid every once in a while. I live in fear that one fine day a random airport immigration agent who's in a bad mood from not having had coffee that morning will - for whatever whimsical reason - make that impossible. That said, we're still enormously privileged by documentation, language, money, and class. Our *immediate* family isn't separated - which is more than can be said for many folks.

White people largely enjoy the right to travel from white country to white country without ever seriously needing to jump through hoops or worry unduly; we don't.
posted by splitpeasoup at 11:26 AM on June 2 [33 favorites]


I just sprinkled salt on my twitter account - switched over to a free VPN which interestingly uses Ukrainian IP addresses...
posted by hugbucket at 11:31 AM on June 2 [1 favorite]


They could deny you a passport, though, which would mean you couldn't leave in the first place, but I'm not sure there's any reason to assume that's going to happen. This is enough of a nightmare if it just targets people who want visas to come to the US.
For what it's worth, the US government has denied passports to people it didn't want leaving the country in the past, such as Paul Robeson and W. E. B. Du Bois.
posted by a certain Sysoi Pafnut'evich at 11:38 AM on June 2 [23 favorites]


That's nice for you, I guess?
Why would you think that? I was already worried before this news, and now I am very worried. I have close family in the US, just like you.
I will go on posting as usual, though. If there are issues, they started with Trump's election, and I can't change that now.

During the Bush presidency, one of my friends' son was denied entry and held in detention for several hours, in spite of being a diplomat from an allied nation who was heading to a course on coordination of ME policy during the Iraq war.
Don't even imagine that this is new. It's just worse.
posted by mumimor at 12:08 PM on June 2 [21 favorites]


What I’m seeing down the road is denaturalization of citizens who didn‘t hand over all or their accounts when they were still in the Visa system, or who posted dissident opinions, such as Abolish ICE or BLM content. Possibly concerning everyone who is being naturalized right now. Plus their kids. Plus their families who’ll go on a visa blacklist. Maybe tie this up with voter registration and it‘s a pretty damn effective tool to suppress voters and dissidents.

As someone undergoing naturalization right now, let me just say: Hello DHS, if you’re reading this I‘m grateful of the work you do keeping us safe! Hail Trump and God bless the Land Of The Free.
posted by The Toad at 12:08 PM on June 2 [15 favorites]


When my husband can’t get ESTA approval because his American wife criticizes the Fascists currently in power on social media, I will take bitter joy in telling my parents they won’t be seeing their granddaughters because of the treasonous dipshits they voted for. I hope FaceTime can handle the packet size of that ginormous I-Fucking-Told-You-So coming down the pike.
posted by romakimmy at 12:45 PM on June 2 [50 favorites]


Wouldn't you need a functioning State Department with many competent bureaucrats that could speak the many languages of the world to make this business work?
posted by Bee'sWing at 12:51 PM on June 2 [5 favorites]


For what it's worth, the US government has denied passports to people it didn't want leaving the country in the past, such as Paul Robeson and W. E. B. Du Bois.
Yeah, I know. My mom's first cousin was one of them. But she was a fairly high-profile Communist (capital C, as in member of the Communist Party USA), and she did something really frigging high-profile and Communist-y to get her passport revoked. I don't think that, even during the height of McCarthyism, there was ever mass denial of passports. It could happen, but I don't think this is necessarily the precursor to that. And if it comes to that, there are lots of reasons that the government might know to deny me a passport without me ever giving them my twitter handle (which honestly, they could probably figure out if they cared enough.)
Wouldn't you need a functioning State Department with many competent bureaucrats that could speak the many languages of the world to make this business work?
You'd need that to do it competently, but they aren't competent, so they'll probably just run people's posts through Google Translate.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:55 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]


Wouldn't you need a functioning State Department with many competent bureaucrats that could speak the many languages of the world to make this business work?

Not if the main objective of the rule is to have a readily available excuse to arbitrarily deny you entry.
posted by Omon Ra at 12:56 PM on June 2 [29 favorites]


Mitch McConnell is digging democracy's grave and Stephen Miller is pissing on it.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:59 PM on June 2 [9 favorites]


So one of my friends is an investigative journalist and when covering sort of hostile or dictatorial or really unstable states they usually ask for all your social media profiles before they let you in .

so Normie profiles that would be regularly updated and used as a cover are a common tactic, that and a clean phone just for travelling.

It was generally regarded that places that did this really didn't want foreign journalists knowing what was going on inside the country.
posted by The Whelk at 12:59 PM on June 2 [25 favorites]


Wouldn't you need a functioning State Department with many competent bureaucrats that could speak the many languages of the world to make this business work?

LOL. Silicon valley is just itching to take over this ‚business‘ via government contracting. Hail our new algorithm-wielding overlords.
posted by The Toad at 1:06 PM on June 2 [6 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that returning citizens have a constitutional right to enter the country.

maybe white citizens by birth.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:17 PM on June 2 [9 favorites]


Not if the main objective of the rule is to have a readily available excuse to arbitrarily deny you entry.

In that case, it would be cheaper just to fire most of said bureaucrats and institute a slow down. I guess they wouldn't get any headlines that way though.

My old employer did business around the world and a typical contract clause would be that we had to host a number of technical people from the host country at our US offices to see how we did things. Interfering with that process is going to make some Trump supporters mad.
posted by Bee'sWing at 1:23 PM on June 2


Yeah, there doesn't have to be any meaningful attempt to make it work. It is great already as intimidatory theatre. And there will be marvellous business opportunities in building shitty automated review systems, augmented by dunces mis-reading your sarcasm, and the occasional Richelieu who given six lines tweeted by the most honest man in the world, will find enough in them to hang him.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:34 PM on June 2 [8 favorites]


Wouldn't you need a functioning State Department with many competent bureaucrats that could speak the many languages of the world to make this business work?

Those people are our Foreign Service Officers. They're still out there every day doing this work. They didn't vote for Trump. They're not happy about the ruins of their department. They don't enjoy turning people down for visas for arbitrary reasons. And now they will be forced to execute this awful policy.
posted by hydropsyche at 1:45 PM on June 2 [5 favorites]


dunces mis-reading your sarcasm

More worried about dunces reading my sarcasm the way it‘s intended tbh
posted by The Toad at 1:49 PM on June 2 [6 favorites]


Not using a smartphone is suspicious.

Heck, not having any phone really confuses the TSA folks. You should see the looks on their faces when they demand I put my phone in the tray, and I show them I don’t have one. It’s as if I suddenly sprouted horns.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:22 PM on June 2 [13 favorites]


They don't enjoy turning people down for visas for arbitrary reasons.

Some of them do. I've seen them enjoying it. YMMV.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:22 PM on June 2 [14 favorites]


In that case, it would be cheaper just to fire most of said bureaucrats and institute a slow down. I guess they wouldn't get any headlines that way though.

They'll do both. And later, when a slightly more reasonable administration returns and restaffs the foreign service, the rule will continue to be in place. Bush's TSA and security theater didn't vanish just because Obama was president. The goal is to pollute all institutions so that the stench remains long after they're gone.
posted by Omon Ra at 2:35 PM on June 2 [20 favorites]


They'll do both. And later, when a slightly more reasonable administration returns and restaffs the foreign service, the rule will continue to be in place. Bush's TSA and security theater didn't vanish just because Obama was president. The goal is to pollute all institutions so that the stench remains long after they're gone.
This
posted by mumimor at 2:37 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: dunces mis-reading your sarcasm

Oh you don't have FB, but that's cuz you're Chinese and use Weibo. HEY CHINA! ITS YOUR BUDDY TRUMP, WHATS THIS DUDE GOT?

It wasn't in the linked article, but I've seen screenshots of this on Twitter and it includes some of the big non-Western social media platforms, as well.
posted by Pink Frost at 2:54 PM on June 2


The more fiddly, complicated, confusing rules there are, the more opportunities authorities have to wield what amounts to arbitrary, capricious, totalitarian power through selective enforcement. Those rules also multiply opportunities for shakedowns, bribery, corruption of many kinds, transgression bonding, etc.

If a visa to travel to the US becomes a sign that you had both the connections and the capital to make a pay-off, then that becomes a functionally self-aggrandizing status symbol: Now your acquaintances who need to go to the US will ask you for a favor. It’s a perfect fit with the whole Trumpian mafia-don paradigm of honor, loyalty, and privilege.

Some people really enjoy this mode of working in the world, breaking rules to show everyone how special and important they are.
posted by Western Infidels at 3:32 PM on June 2 [17 favorites]


What's the going rate to buy clean social media accounts? Is there a way to swap in photos to match who you are?
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:10 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]


Do I need to submit the carbon copies of my recent correspondence?
posted by snofoam at 4:29 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]


Bezos, Apple, Google's leadership, etc. will almost certainly side wholesale w/fascism should it arrive in the US in its unvarnished form “

Can someone please explain this line of thinking to Me?

Bezos.. well I know he’s a Billionaire. But is he known to have facist leanings?

Also aren’t both Google and Apple Current CEO’s / Board of Directors diverse enough (Ie Gay or Non Caucasian) that Facisim would be very very bad for either company?
posted by Faintdreams at 4:31 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]


When my husband can’t get ESTA approval because his American wife criticizes the Fascists currently in power on social media, I will take bitter joy in telling my parents they won’t be seeing their granddaughters because of the treasonous dipshits they voted for.

They'll just say that it's your fault for sabotaging your husband by not controlling yourself online. If you were nicer to Trump online you wouldn't tear the family apart!

My parents aren't even particularly conservative politically and they're still concerned about how openly political I am online because of situations like these. If this happened to me, "you had it coming" would be one of their first comments.
posted by divabat at 4:37 PM on June 2 [8 favorites]


Can someone please explain this line of thinking to Me?

Bezos.. well I know he’s a Billionaire. But is he known to have facist leanings?


It's a bit of a derail for this thread, but very simply put, capital sides with fascists, because fascism is in large part a reaction to threats to capitalism. Maybe some of the BoD mightn't be super keen on it, maybe it won't matter if they're technically illegal as long as they can escape personal consequences due to their power and wealth.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 6:41 PM on June 2 [12 favorites]


And specifically, when one looks at the history of IBM and Nazi Germany, one sees that people at the forefront of information technology don't scruple to put their capability in the service of the state if there's money in it. Collaboration will be a business decision.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:45 PM on June 2 [16 favorites]


Much of the early 20th century elite in the US and around the world were big believers in eugenics and were therefore quite sympathetic to the Nazi project even before the prospect of war profits came to their attention. The dynamic in most boardrooms is quite different these days, though in the vast majority of cases growing the balance sheet can justify damn near anything.

Thankfully, that focus on the bottom line can be used to our advantage in many cases.
posted by wierdo at 8:13 PM on June 2


> Mitch McConnell is digging democracy's grave Amorphophallus titanum garden and Stephen Miller is pissing on freedom watering it.
posted by Pinback at 9:51 PM on June 2


There is a significant part of the US elite (mostly political, but occasionally some industrial/economic) that have a real boner for what their peers in China can do. This social-media thing strikes me almost as a sort of weird emulation. I can totally see someone saying "well, if China can do crap like this, and the pinkos in Europe don't seem to care enough for sanctions, well, we can do it too!"

Truly, I do think there are people—some of them in the Cabinet—who look at China and must be green with envy. I mean, China's putting their inconvenient minorities in concentration camps and nobody meaningfully bats an eye! Trump throws a few hundred thousand people in camps and it's all over the news, and Congress is all upset, and people are comparing him to Hitler... hell, Xi Jinping doesn't have to deal with Congress! The Chinese just do shit! When they want to put people in death camps, into the death camps they go! No fucking around! No unflattering news stories, either.

For a certain kind of person that must drive them crazy. Maybe it's why Trump has such a bone to pick with China. He must hate that they're constantly getting away with the sort of stuff that he wants to do but can't manage to pull off.

Normally I find the "look to China for the future" stuff really tired and lazy, but this might be the exception; if you want to see what the authoritarian-conservatives are aiming for, look to China. Because the brighter sparks among them probably are, or will be. And even if they don't get very far this time around, in a generation when they come around again—and they will, because US politics isn't monostable, it's bistable—they'll have been watching and taking notes. Not at their economic system, but at their system of social control. They crave that sort of authoritarian "harmony" (where "harmony" is "everyone doing what the fuck I say") and wherever it exists in the world, they're going to copy it whenever they can.

Slight derail, but I'll make a long bet: within our lifetimes, fascism generally and the Third Reich in particular won't be the blueprint for socially conservative authoritarians anymore. But what they'll come up with, and what we may be seeing the beginnings of, will be more dangerous for not having been conclusively proven through the crucible of total warfare to be objectively lacking, i.e. a loser's philosophy. You can at least always fall back on that objective standard when dealing with neo-Nazis or neo-Confederates: they had a shot, they took it, and they lost. (It's real hard to say that you've stumbled upon a superior solution to the resource distribution problem when the canonical examples led to its adherents becoming refugees and watching their glorious cities burn.) It will be difficult to say that of 21st century Chinese-flavored technocratic authoritarian syncretism. Particularly if China does become the dominant global power, there will be no easy socially-liberal response to claims that authoritarian social control is simply an objectively better system.

Watch this space.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:21 PM on June 2 [19 favorites]


I visited the USA in 2015. I measured the time from getting off a plane to seeing a gun. It took ninety seconds.

With this bullshit, I'm happy to never go there again. That'll be a little tricky, coz I'm in NZ, will have to go to the UK in the near future, and NZ1 goes through the US, but fuck that.
posted by happyinmotion at 12:08 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


I have to go back to America in July for a conference. I'm a native-born citizen. I'm still apprehensive about all of this and actually considering buying a burner phone and getting dummy social media accounts for the trip.

Also actively trying to never set foot in the US again until Trump is gone. It was going really well until this year.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:21 AM on June 3


My understanding is that this affects Visa applicants only.
An ESTA is not the same as a Visa - although the ESTA application already includes an optional social media question.

I haven't seen anything that would affect Citizens who should not have to fill out anything more than a customs form.
posted by vacapinta at 3:27 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


Many people have mentioned setting up sanitised or false social media accounts and that seems like a good idea but unless you can retroactively create comments/traffics for those accounts having a generic account that is only a few months old might be seen as even more of a red flag to authorities looking for ‘suspicious activity’
posted by Faintdreams at 3:29 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


When you're a woc, exhaling is suspicious activity IMHO
posted by hugbucket at 3:48 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


As a graduate student applying for visas to the US (and Australia, and France, and Germany...), I've seen people in line subject to arbitrary denials and cruelty dosed out with relish. This will give them even more power to enforce arbitrary visa denials, of course, but they already had that power.

Instead, I suspect that this is meant to be a trap: declare your social media accounts on your visa application, come to the US, and at the border, the agent can either humiliate you and deny you entry, or have you quietly hustled to a back room based on your social graph. Can you say for sure that none of your Friends' Friends are suspicious? Are you sure that you've never had a Twitter exchange with someone who has "jihadist sympathies"?
posted by RedOrGreen at 6:40 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]


After all, what's the point of having control over a country, if people are allowed to leave? Wouldn't want them visiting other countries and seeing what a non-authoritarian, non-shitshow looks like.

Of course, this internal restriction wouldn't be applied to wealthy white folks, or maybe white folks at all, but everyone else...


For visiting another country, maybe. But capital has worked hard in every developed country to make sure labor is not mobile. The US is actually pretty far behind in keeping people out - it is easier to immigrate to the US than emigrate to anywhere with a favorable labor environment. Unless you are a mid-to-high level tech worker or a doctor, you are not going anywhere unless you have the permission of an international corporation.
posted by FakeFreyja at 7:32 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


Can you say for sure that none of your Friends' Friends are suspicious?

All right, we'll let you in... if you promise to report any suspicious behaviour. Sign here.
posted by hat_eater at 9:28 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


> I can't even find the exact list of which social media platforms are included. The Federal Register for the proposed rule making says One question lists multiple social media platforms and requires the applicant to provide any identifiers used by applicants for those platforms during the five years preceding the date of application. The platforms listed may be updated by the Department by adding or removing platforms.

Oh good grief, this is going to be an absurd shitshow. There is no way that they will understand "social media" well enough to create a working definition that makes any damn sense to anyone.

For instance, I consider "social media" to be social networking platforms. You create a network of people connected to you, and share/receive published content with them. I wouldn't consider Metafilter to be social media, for example. But if they go with a definition like "any online interactive communication forum," that would theoretically include not only social networking platforms, but any website or app that enables commenting. Newspaper and blog comment sections. Forums for asking home improvement questions. CaringBridge pages for friends with terminal illnesses.

The rule-followers will trip over themselves to follow rules but likely forget something, the laissez-faire types will filter according to their own common-sense definition, and who gets caught in the trap will depend entirely on political agenda and privilege.

Also, this seems rife for blackmail. Everyone going to disclose their Fetlife profiles?
posted by desuetude at 10:29 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]


I look forward to other countries imposing reciprocal requirements on Americans who request visas. This will inconvenience and discomfort many, and may lose a few the right to travel. But Americans have dangerous ideas, and who would want just any of them to come into their country and start stirring up trouble.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 12:14 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


I don't think that, even during the height of McCarthyism, there was ever mass denial of passports. It could happen, but I don't think this is necessarily the precursor to that. And if it comes to that, there are lots of reasons that the government might know to deny me a passport without me ever giving them my twitter handle (which honestly, they could probably figure out if they cared enough.)

It's not at a "mass" level, but passport denials have been increasing, if you're trans at least. Here in Seattle, Danni Askini was denied a passport renewal and only eventually got one after the lengthy involvement of a member of Congress. They demanded to see her original gender documentation, and didn't care that it was part of court records sealed while she was still a minor.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 2:20 PM on June 3 [8 favorites]


Wenn die Nazis in den 30er-40er nicht all so nationalsozialistisch wären, hätten wir alle Deutsch lernen müssen, wenn wir was mit der Wissenschaft zu tun hätten wollen. Sprachen können (und werden) von der Politik zerstört.

這是一種恥辱,因為我的普通話很糟糕。
posted by Vetinari at 2:22 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]


jenfullmoon: I am signed up for some social media but I haven't used it in years.

Actually, you just did.
Metafilter is clearly a "social media platform" and this is what the article says:

For now the form only includes the most popular social media platforms, but soon applicants will be able to list all the sites they use.

So if this is really handled the way it is implied by the article, then this means that obtaining a visa will require handing over your Mefi name or risk deportation / refusal of entry.
posted by sour cream at 12:08 AM on June 4


buahahhahahaha...
posted by hugbucket at 4:12 AM on June 4


This does not affect Visa Waver Program (those who use ESTA), only those applying for visas.

(Not that this makes it OK, but since at least one person here referenced ESTA wanted to point that out).

ESTA has the option to list, but it is not compulsory like it is for those who need visas to visit the US. (Not yet, anyway...)
posted by thefoxgod at 4:18 PM on June 5


What about green card renewal? I'm up in 2021...
posted by Hairy Lobster at 8:02 AM on June 6


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