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Five years of social media history can get anyone in trouble

Social Cues: The State Department wants to look at the past five years of a refugee's social media history. But who doesn't have posts they regret sharing?

Social Cues is our look at what people are talking about across Twitter and Facebook.

"Where do you see yourself five years from now?"

This question gets asked a lot at job interviews because people want to see what your future goals are and how you expect to change and grow. In the last five years, I went to college, learned to drive, got a car, lost a car, graduated, had two jobs and moved seven times.

A lot can change in five years, but that's the stretch of time that the Department of State wants to dig through social media before granting a refugee access into the US. On Thursday, the government agency filed a notice to the Federal Register, proposing its latest process for vetting immigrants applying for US visas.

In the new procedure, the State Department recommends requiring immigrants to hand over their social media handles from the last five years, as well as any phone numbers and email addresses they've used. The Department of Homeland Security already requests social media handles voluntarily from visitors, and has even recommended asking for passwords.

The US is expecting up to 65,000 new immigrants who will need to go through extreme vetting before being granted a travel visa, part of a policy President Trump has advocated from the White House and on Twitter.

The State Department said it would not be asking for passwords from visa applicants, but when profiles on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are public, they might not have to. Officers are also "directed not to engage or interact with individuals on or through social media," David Donahue, the acting assistant secretary of the Bureau of Consular Affairs wrote in the notice.

In the notice, Donahue also said people can't be denied entry into the US based on what their social media shows about their political views, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, gender or ethnicity.

But think about how different your social media presence was five years ago compared to now. Things you've said, done or posted that you look back at now and cringe at. People that you've forgotten you were even friends with, opinions you changed as you matured.

I went back on my Facebook timeline to 2011 and 2012. It's like a time capsule of bad clothes, quotes I thought were deep ("Defeating a sandwich, only makes it tastier." What?), and stupid photos. You know, your normal high school kid experience, except it's all logged in one convenient place.

Imagine if you couldn't get into another country because someone you were Facebook friends with five years ago later turned out to be a person of interest in an investigation.

It's no wonder today's teens and millennials are flocking to platforms like Snapchat, where nothing you post is permanent. When public social media activity can jeopardize your future in college applications and job interviews, being able to post that keg stand photo doesn't seem worth all the Likes anymore.

And now when the government agencies want in on your social media history, there's a lot more at stake than jobs and education.

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