Report: Border Agents Are Checking Out Travelers’ Facebook Profiles

It’s no secret that the government uses Facebook as a tool to track and observe individuals. However, according to a recent report in The Verge, officials may be snooping on people who are traveling to the U.S. before they even arrive.

Last week, a Harvard freshman from Lebanon found himself detained in the Boston airport by Customs and Border Protection agents who questioned him over his friends’ social media activity and political beliefs. Eventually, the boy’s visa was revoked for unclear reasons. The episode left experts confused and concerned that we don’t know the full scope of the government’s social media surveillance.

“Are CBP personnel instructed to do that? Is that something that they’re looking out for?” said Mana Azarmi, a lawyer for the Center for Democracy and Technology. “We need to know what structure is in place to ensure that travelers don’t face abuse. And we don’t have that kind of information.”

However, Azarmi also warned that, with the increasing prevalence of Facebook around the world, this sort of privacy invasion won’t be going away anytime soon.

“We should only expect that stories like this will become more common,” she said. “Because this collection has become more routine.”

As always, if you’re concerned about protecting your information online, you should change your settings so that the content you share is only visible to friends. And of course, only upload content you’re comfortable getting out. Because, sadly, it eventually might.

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