Thursday, December 16, 2010

What You Post on Facebook Matters

Facebook has become an interesting tool for people who engage in background investigations. People with Facebook accounts are invited to share such information as their relationship status, their birth dates and other personal information. Plus, a person's Facebook page often has links to that person's "Friends."

U.S. immigration authorities, for example, have been know to research social networking sites, like Facebook, to see how an applicant describes his or her relationship status, or with whom that person associates. If an alien is applying for a visa based on a marriage to a U.S. citizen, for example, but has his or her relationship status listed as "single," this may prompt immigration authorities to suspect fraud.

Posts on Facebook can also sometimes inadvertently reveal where a person has been hanging out, what he or she has been doing with their time, and with whom they associate. Such information can be used by immigration authorities to compare with other answers to questionnaires to find inconsistencies.

Another red flag could be where a Facebook user does not have his or her spouse listed as a "friend."

The availability of such information to government investigators has prompted many immigration lawyers to ask whether a client has a social networking account, and request that the client become a "friend," so that the lawyer can monitor the same information.

While social networking sites can be a fun way to stay in contact with friends, family and loved ones, users should be aware that posts which are public can be seen by anyone, including government officials. Social networking users should keep this in mind when posting status updates.

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