Twitter on Thursday condemned the State Department's social media regulation requirements for visa applicants.
"Twitter is committed to fostering free expression and public conversation for everyone — that includes protecting the right of people to speak anonymously without fear of reprisal or retribution," Twitter said in a statement from its official account.
"Collecting social media identifiers from visa applicants, including personal Twitter handles, has a chilling effect on that conversation. For these reasons, we remain strongly opposed to the U.S. Department of State’s social media registration requirements," the social media giant added.
The tweet was posted along with a link to a complaint filed on Thursday by social entrepreneurship organization Doc Society and the documentary filmmaking nonprofit International Documentary Association against Secretary of State Mike Pomepo and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf.
The lawsuit says the State Department's rules "require an estimated 14.7 million visa applicants each year to disclose on their application forms all social media identifiers, including pseudonymous ones, they have used on any of twenty social media platforms during the preceding five years.
It adds that the requirement "violates the expressive and associational rights of visa applicants by compelling them to facilitate the government's access to what is effectively a live database of their personal, creative, and political activities online. As the Supreme Court has observed, social media platforms are now among the “most important places for the exchange of views."
The State Department's website states that requiring social media information will strengthen the country's traveler and immigrant vetting process.
"National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveler and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening. We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect U.S. citizens, while supporting legitimate travel to the United States," a June 4 statement from the department reads.
"We already request certain contact information, travel history, family member information, and previous addresses from all visa applicants. Collecting this additional information from visa applicants will strengthen our process for vetting these applicants and confirming their identity," the statement continues.