Examples of open source information uses in the field of migration

  • To study migrants’ assimilation – calculating an assimilation score that could serve as a proxy for the assimilation of a group of migrants to a local population in terms of interests expressed by both groups;
  • To carry out background checks for visa applicants. This could be applied to: (a) to detect individuals who are prone to violent extremism, and (b) to identify other unique circumstances that may be grounds for visa denial. Immigration services, however, have an advantage in this regard – they are in possession of a reliable and relatively complete set of personal data submitted by applicants themselves on immigration forms. The data may be used as entry data to create a ‘data filter’ effectively reversing the search process. Apart from the original content posted online, it is also important to review one’s ‘shared’ posts, ‘liked’ pages, ‘followed’ users, and joined ‘groups’ (on Facebook, Twitter and other micro-blogging platforms and social media – the specific terminology about ‘sharing’, ‘liking’, ‘following’ etc. may vary) which may indicate personal views, interests, and life situations which may lead to a visa denial. this may be important, especially when looking for signs of radicalization; someone ‘following’ accounts known to be posting terrorist propaganda;
  • Using social media to better provide accurate information to migrants. An example of best practice is the weekly live Facebook programme delivered by the Nepalese embassy in Malaysia during the COVID-19 crisis. (See information campaigns);
  • Data from professional social media platforms (e.g. LinkedIn) can be used to produce a digital mapping of the workforce and individuals’ occupational profiles – including those of migrants – in different countries and regions, particularly in locations or sectors where the use of this platform is relatively high;
  • Situational awareness at hot spots, crossing points, safe houses, and camps. There are examples when border clashes were documented using open source investigation. The process included the collection of videos of the conflict available on social media. The videos were studied and high-resolution satellite imagery of the area was used to look at the state of vegetation and determine from which angle the videos were captured and then use a 3D model of the event. The videos were also used for individual identification of victims to document the time and location where they were wounded. By combining the videos, a timeline of the event could be established;
  • Analyzing flight patterns to monitor the movement of irregular migrants.
  • Collecting information on migration-related activities. For example, doing social media searches using keywords like “passports”, “trips to Europe”, but also terminology used in smuggling like jungle, mahrab, kaçakçı. These searches involve wording in the languages of the irregular migrants.


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Migration-Related Risks Caused by Misconceptions of Opportunities and Requirement

MIRROR has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation action program under grant agreement No 832921.

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