Types of information collected by migrants

  • On the migration journey, ICTs are used to collect up-to-date information on the best migration routes, imminent border closures, risks and weather conditions, find employment, transportation, and money transfer services.
  • GPS is used to navigate seas (e.g. by Senegalese fishermen smuggling irregular migrants into Spanish territory) and land as is the case with migrants on the Mexico-US border; Google Maps is frequently used by refugees and migrants seeking to cross into the EU while using the ‘Balkan route’.
  • Migrants are often not sharing information while travelling, especially as Facebook is inaccessible at times. On the journey, text messaging is popular, due to the ease of using WhatsApp and Viber.
  • On arrival, social media platforms and apps are used by migrants as new channels to access information, resources and news; for purposes including communication, emotion-management, intercultural relations, identification, participation, political protest and sending/receiving remittances; social media enhances migrants’ capacities to maintain family and kinship contacts across long distances, to create extensive personal networks, and to participate in the national debates of their home societies through transnational associations.
  • On the journey and on arrival, migrants use Google Translate to exchange information or ask questions when necessary.
  • Many illiterate migrants use Viber or WhatsApp to send voice messages.
  • Because migrants are heavily reliant on mobile technology when confronted with unexpected situations they may face serious problems. When migrants are cut off from both the internet and their social networks for a while, their journey is significantly impacted as they no longer have access to essential information and updates.
  • There are many apps created to provide information to migrants, but there is very little evidence on whether migrants actually use these apps.


Borkert, M., Fisher, K. E., & Yafi, E. (2018). The best, the worst, and the hardest to find: How people, mobiles, and social media connect migrants in (to) Europe. Social Media+ Society, 4(1), 2056305118764428.

Frouws, B., Phillips, M., Hassan, A., & Twigt, M. (2016). Getting to Europe the ‘WhatsApp’ Way: The Use of ICT in Contemporary Mixed Migration Flows to Europe. Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat Briefing Paper, 2016, DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.2862592.

Komito, L. (2011). Social media and migration: Virtual community 2.0. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 62(6):1075–1086, DOI: 10.1002/asi.21517.

Zijlstra, J., & van Liempt, I. (2017). Smart(phone) travelling: understanding the use and impact of mobile technology on irregular migration journeys. Int. J. Migration and Border Studies, Vol. 3, Nos. 2/3, pp.174–191.

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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