When Facebook Is Your Worst Enemy

Written by Carmen Cornejo

Social media is as popular among immigrant communities as with anybody else. Facebook, for example, is one of the few means many people have to connect with their country and communicate with family they cannot visit due to their immigration status.

However, immigrants need to use social media responsibly and avoid negative postings or giving out information that can be used against them. The reason: Immigration officials may be looking at your posts to decide whether to grant or deny you immigration benefits.

In 2010, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic at UC Berkeley filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with USCIS to determine the degree to which investigators sweep social media for potential fraud on immigration cases.

The two organizations, which advocate for online privacy issues, received a memo issued by USCIS. They found that the government uses social media postings as evidence even when there are no behavioral parameters to indicate the level of suspicion or to warrant an investigation.

It isn’t clear how deep these social media investigations go. But this gives the impression that officials may probe into social media indiscriminately.

Thus, immigration lawyers advise clients to be careful in the use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blog posts, Instagram and even dating websites. In addition to those sites, the memo lists several others including Badoo (popular in Europe), MIGente (for Latinos), and Muxlim (for Muslims).”

Responsible social media users should avoid posting nudity, drug use, threats of violence, alcohol abuse, profanity, anything sexually suggestive, verbal attacks, illegal activities, or even the suggestion of those.