Social Media Toxic Narratives

Author: Alagie Jinkang, University of Bologna

Social media platforms have been documented to have negatively influenced and exploited a wide array of critical areas in our migration ecosystem, from: a) how (potential) migrants perceive migration, countries of origin, transit and destination, to how citizens of countries of origin, transit and destination perceive (potential) migrants, and from; b) how malicious actors (want to) exploit people on the move, citizens perceptions and migration policy, to d) how misand disinformation contributed to inaccurate narratives and anti-immigrant populism. Understood thus, social media platforms are places where torrential misinformation about migration is produced, disseminated, spammed, and consumed. Inevitably they shape network connections, create political spaces, influence citizens’ perceptions and even grassroot movements that allow social media toxic public opinion formation in migration discourse. As a basic channel and source of mis- and disinformation, social media platforms can be doubleaged swords: from the selection of personalised (news) content to the automated creation of news articles for the public; and from the detection and removal of harmful or copyrighted content to the creation of fake news and deepfakes through social bots. This brief offers acrossthe-board, critical and long-term systemic recommendations for policymakers concerning social media disinformation, content moderation and political microtargeting through their personal recommender systems and social bots that misrepresent migration.


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