Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson resisted calls last year to allow immigration agents to review visa applicants’ social media activity because of fear of “bad public relations,” according to a former agency official.

“During that time period immigration officials were not allowed to use or view social media as part of the screening process,” John Cohen, a former under-secretary at DHS for intelligence and analysis, told ABC News, where he now works as a national security consultant.

The issue of social media vetting has taken on new significance during the investigation into Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the jihadi couple who killed 14 people in a terrorist attack in San Bernardino earlier this month.

Federal investigators have found that Malik posted jihadi messages on her social media accounts even before she was approved for a K-1 fiancee visa to come to the U.S. last year, The New York Times reported this weekend.

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