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The Use of Social Media in the Fight Against Migrant Smuggling: EMN Inform

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This Inform summarises the results of the Ad-Hoc Query on ‘Addressing and preventing the use of social media in migrant smuggling’and the discussions held at an EMN workshop on "The use of social media in migrant smuggling and the development of information campaigns/counter-narratives" organised by the European Commission on 16 June 2016.

More specifically, it explores how social media is used for the purpose of migrant smuggling, and how it is used by Member States and other key stakeholders in their efforts to prevent and investigate smuggling activities.

Key points to note:

  • The use of social media in migrant smuggling has witnessed an exponential growth in recent years.
  • The increasing use of social media can be explained by the fact that it is less costly, safer to use for both the migrant and their smugglers (anonymity/encryption), whilst more effective in increasing visibility and reaching a wider group of migrants.
  • Social media has played an important role in not only increasing the volume but also the effectiveness of smuggling operations and has made it overall more difficult to investigate and prosecute such crimes.
  • The EU Action Plan against migrant smuggling has called for i) monitoring of internet content; ii) closer cooperation with internet service providers and social media; iii) development of counter-narratives also through social media.
  • Counter-narratives on social media (i.e. information and awareness raising campaigns) can help prevent potential migrants to engage in hazardous journeys and irregular migration.
  • Monitoring activities can, on the one hand, detect and assist in removing content related to migrant smuggling (preventive) and, on the other hand, detected content can also be used as e-evidence in criminal proceedings (investigative).
Author: European Migration Network
Publisher: Directorate General Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission
Date of Publication: 17 October 2016
Geographical focus: Europe

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