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The Best, the Worst, and the Hardest to Find: How People, Mobiles, and Social Media Connect Migrants In(to) Europe

Borkert, Maren; Fisher, Karen E.; Yafi, Eiad

For displaced people, migrating into Europe has highly complex information needs about the journey and destination. Each new need presents problems of where to seek information, how to trust or distrust information, and financial and other costs. The outcomes of receiving poor or false information can cause bodily harm or death, loss of family, or financial ruin. We aim to make two major contributions: First, provide rich insights into digital literacy, information needs, and strategies among Syrian and Iraqi refugees who entered Europe in 2015, a topic rarely dealt with in the literature. Second, we seek to change the dominant perspective on migrants and refugees as passive victims of international events and policies by showing their capacities and skills to navigate the complex landscape of information and border regimes en route to Europe. Building on research at Za’atari refugee camp (Jordan), we surveyed 83 Arab refugees in two centers in Berlin. Analyses address refugees’ temporal information worlds, focusing on the importance and difficulty in finding specific information, how migrants identify mis- and disinformation, and the roles of information and technology mediaries. Findings illustrate the digital capacities refugees employ during and after their journey to Europe; they show social support via social media and highlight the need for a radical shift in thinking about and researching migration in the digital age.
Published in: Social Media + Society, 10.1177/2056305118764428, SAGE Publications