Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Bill Screens Social Media of Foreigners

Dec 18, 2015
Press Release
ISIS Has 40,000 Twitter Accounts – “Fight Fire With Fire”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, today introduced legislation requiring the government to screen the social media accounts of foreigners seeking entry into the United States. Buchanan, noting that ISIS reportedly has more than 40,000 Twitter accounts, said “We have to use every tool at our disposal to protect Americans.”

The “Social Media Screening For Terrorists Act” directs the secretary of Homeland Security to vet all public records, including Facebook and other forms of social media, before admitting foreign travelers and visa applicants into the country.

Buchanan’s bill mirrors legislation introduced Tuesday by U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-AZ. Text of the bill can be viewed here.

Buchanan earlier this week called for the White House to begin immediately vetting social media after reports surfaced that the terrorists behind the San Bernardino killings had pledged support to Islamic jihad on their Facebook accounts. The White House has since indicated an interest in doing so.

“We need to do everything in our power to provide for a safe and secure homeland,” Buchanan said. “We are at war.”

Buchanan said he was optimistic that Congress would take up the issue when it returns in January for the 2016 session.

“The war on terror is evolving as radical Islamic jihadists use the Internet and social media sites to communicate, fundraise, and recruit,” the congressman said. “It’s time to fight fire with fire. My bill ensures that our government takes every conceivable action to keep terrorists out of the country.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that a former acting chief of the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence bureau said civil liberties and privacy concerns have given some DHS officials reservations about scrutinizing visa applicants' social media posts.

“Political correctness is no longer an option,” Buchanan said. “We must unleash 21st Century resources to penetrate and destroy the online activity of ISIS.”