What is social media & OSINT


OSINT as public information that can be retrieved from:

  • The Internet;
  • Traditional mass media (e.g., television, radio, newspapers, magazines);
  • Grey literature (specialized journals, conference proceedings, and think tank studies);
  • Photography;
  • Geospatial information (e.g. maps and commercial imagery products).

Other open sources may also be available as well as clarifying that this data collected from ‘publicly available’ sources must be used in an ‘intelligence context’ and the collection of the subject data may be performed in an overt manner.

  • Social media encompasses: web logs (blogs), collaborative projects (e.g. Wikipedia), social networking sites (e.g. Facebook), content communities (e.g. YouTube), virtual social worlds (e.g. Second Life) and virtual gaming worlds;
  • Social media platforms contain content generated by their users (e.g. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube), but can also refer to technologies that facilitate private communication such as Skype, WhatsApp and Viber.


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.

McGregor, E., & Siegel, M., (2013). Social Media and Migration Research. MERIT Working Papers, United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT) 2013-068.

Wells, D., & Gibson, H., (2017). OSINT from a UK perspective: considerations from the law enforcement and military domains. Proceedings Estonian Academy of Security Sciences, 16, 84–113.

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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