Understanding Perceptions of Migrants and Refugees with Social Media

Pulse Lab New York

Project Description

As refugees and migrants travel across multiple borders, they encounter increasing protection risks, particularly when routes change, legal practices evolve and borders close. This forced displacement represents a challenge for humanitarian organizations working to provide assistance to people fleeing dangerous situations. This project used data from Twitter to monitor protection issues and the safe access to asylum of migrants and refugees in Europe.

In collaboration with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UN Global Pulse created a set of taxonomies that were used to explore interactions among refugees and between them and service providers, as well as xenophobic sentiment of host communities towards the displaced populations. Specifically, the study focused on how refugees and migrants were perceived in reaction to a series of terrorist attacks that took place in Europe in 2016.

The results were used to develop a standardized information product to improve UNHCR’s ability to monitor and analyse relevant social media feeds in near real-time.

Paper: Social Media and Forced Displacement – Big Data Analytics and Machine Learning

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