15 October 2010

US government uses social media to detect US Visa, bogus marriage fraud

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A 2008 memo by the Department of Homeland Security has revealed that US immigration officials were instructed to use social media in order to detect fraud.

The memo, entitled "Social Networking Sites and Their Importance to FDNS" (Office of Fraud Detection and National Security), was obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) under the Freedom of Information Act.

Agents were given instructions and information about social networks, including how to join, how to expand friend networks once one is a member and what the most popular social networking sites are. Agents were also given information on how they could use social networks to sniff out US Visa fraud and spot fake relationships.

"Narcissistic tendencies in many people fuels a need to have a large group of 'friends' link to their pages and many of these people accept cyber-friends that they don't even know," the memo said.

"This provides an excellent vantage point for FDNS to observe the daily life of beneficiaries and petitioners who are suspected of fraudulent activities."

Electronic Frontier Foundation said the document dangerously presumes that the information people post online is true and complete, and fails to consider that users' online profiles may not be comprehensive or accurate reflections of their selves.

The American Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their ESTA application to the US Embassy.

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