Published: Mar 09, 2020, Updated: Oct 23, 2022
There are several questions on the ESTA application form that are optional. One of these questions is regarding social media account information. This question provides Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with a point of reference when checking applicant information matches an alternative source to those available to CBP.
This question is used by CBP to identify travelers posing potential threats to the security of the United States. Your social media account information may be scanned for any messages, or other activity which may indicate your sympathies towards particular causes, groups or beliefs. CBP may also your social media accounts to validate your identity, employment, previous travel, citizenships, place of residence or other information. This information is then used by CBP as part of the ESTA application review process, especially if your application is manually reviewed. The following list provides examples of the types of information that typically can be obtained from social media accounts: first name, last name, locations visited, employment information, country of residence, address, political beliefs, religious beliefs, names of parents and other family members, criminal history, countries of citizenship, social media connections, reactions to social media connections, such as likes, dislikes and other reactions.
An applicant’s social media information may affect their likelihood of obtaining an approved ESTA. If your ESTA application is manually review, social media account information aides CBP in reviewing your details as they will be able to verify and collect more information to support their decision on approving or denying an ESTA application. If your social media account information does not match any of the information you have provided on your ESTA application then it is possible that it may affect CBP’s decision.
No, CBP will most likely not try to track down your social media information if you do not provide it on the ESTA form. However, if your social media account is flagged for security purposes unrelated to your ESTA application, then the account may be matched to your ESTA application during a manual review.
The information available for viewing by CBP will depend on the privacy settings you have set for each of the social media accounts you have disclosed. If your privacy settings do not allow for public viewing then it likely CBP will not be able to view your social media account information unless they request a release of information from the company or individuals running the social media website.
Although the social media account information is optional, applicants are advised to enter details regarding their social media accounts. Providing this information should not significantly affect the likelihood of ESTA denial or approval, yet will assist CBP in determining possible security threats should the application be manually reviewed. All ESTA applicants are processed in accordance with the CBP data privacy policies. Applicants should be aware of any terms which they do not feel comfortable with when providing social media information, or any other information for the ESTA application.