New media are extensively used by the asylum seekers.

Asylum Seekers Online


2 minutes to read
Jolanda van Grunsven


Migration is very much influenced by the digital age nowadays. Many asylum seekers find the information they want and need online. How does the age of digitalization affect the way migration works in the 21st century?

On September 15th, 2015, the term “Facebook refugees” was used in an article published on the CNN website. In it, the authors wrote of how asylum seekers made use of technological devices and applications such as “Facebook", "Twitter", "Whatsapp" and "Viber” as they embarked on their respective journeys to various European countries (Watson, Nagel & Bilginsoy, 2015). For this project, we have attempted to research and report on the usage of social media in the contemporary migration crisis.

Considering that the Netherlands has had a long history of immigration with guest workers, asylum seekers, refugees and “post-colonial migrants”, we thought that it would be highly interesting to conduct our research based on the asylum seekers who are presently located in Tilburg and surrounding cities (Hamburg Institute of International Economics, 2007). Through our preliminary research online based on newspaper and scientific articles, we have found that, upon arrival in European nations, asylum seekers continue using new media to maintain contact with families and also, to look for information on what to do next. Furthermore, we have found that there are certain applications designed especially for asylum seekers such as: "Refuchat", "Gherbtna", "Refugee Buddy" and "Refugermany". Such locational services found in mobile phones and wifi services provided in refugee camps may work as a double-edged sword because, on the one hand, these may be seen as an informative tool but, on theother, they can be seen as monitoring tools of asylum seekers.

It is important to recognize the complexity of the issue of migration, especially so in this digital age of today’s ever-changing world. As such, in this project, we have looked at migration through various perspectives. Accordingly, we have consulted different primary and secondary sources such as, various asylum seekers, experts, application developers as well as official statistics.



Hamburg Institute of International Economics. (2007). “Netherlands”. Focus MIGRATION. 11.

Watson, I., Nagel, C. &, Bilginsoy, Z. (2015). “‘Facebook refugees’ chart escape from Syria on cell phones”. CNN.