How can the internet better cater to the needs of migrants and refugees?

(image by Maria Euler)

Hi, Edgeryders community! As a linguistic anthropologist working with newly arrived migrants and refugees in Germany, I have heard a lot from my informants about the ways in which their internet use and needs have changed since leaving their countries of origin.
Many struggled to find sufficient wifi connectivity en route in order to e.g. access navigation apps and services, stay in contact with friends and family members and contact emergency services. Others reported that they did not have sufficient access to legal information (particularly in their first language). Many rely heavily on translation apps which are often not adequate or do not translate from/into their first language.

These are just a few examples of internet-based issues facing current migrants and refugees. What can be done to improve internet-based services, platforms, apps, access to advocacy groups and activists and support forums? How can we think about the private/public divide in this context: how do we ensure quick access, user anonymity and safe networks? What are the responsibilities of content providers? How can individuals ensure that their data is protected?

What is currently being done to make internet-based services better for migrants and refugees and what needs to be done?


Hello @Leonie,

thank you very much for joining! we are very happy to have you here and your topic is very relevant. Could you maybe add an image to the post or allow me to add one so we can share it more effectively?

Also, we will try to get you in contact with people to discuss your questions. Do you already know of some examples of projects, tools or apps that try to do the job, so we could start by discussing those?

@JollyOrc and @BlackForestBoi, do the two of you have a specific perspective or examples for how to help refugees and migrants in online spaces with your tools or experience?

1 Like

Hi @MariaEuler! Thanks for helping me with this. I know very little about this specific area, but am interested to hear what other have to say. Many of my research informants discussed their changing internet-based habits/needs following their migration experiences. Priorities lay in fast, cheap/free communication platforms (e.g. WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram, Signal, etc), translation software, navigation apps, money transfer sites, access to legal information, access to support networks, advocates and activists. Many also brought up concerns about protecting their data, identity and location online. The question is meant more as a general prompt to add to our discussion on NGI.

What kind of an image did you mean?

@Leonie, just some kind of fitting header picture that you have the rights on. Maybe just your headline question in a nice type :). I can also do it for you if you do not have it :slight_smile:

Hi @MariaEuler, that would be great, thank you!!

@Leonie, we are meeting up in an online community call on Tuesday the 20th 18:00-19:00 to discuss how to shape our international festival with features on tech for justice, equality and sustainability. Would be a great opportunity to get to know each other more and to see how to develop something that is relevant :slight_smile:

You can join the call here: Launch Meeting - Zoom

1 Like

Thanks so much @MariaEuler! I will definitely try to join the call, though I’m in Canberra Australia which is 8 hours ahead of you, so it may not work. Would it make sense for the two of us to talk beforehand?

@Leonie, where are you usually based? Two weeks after we will have another similar call. If you want we can also plan and chat a bit beforehand, but I am not an expert on your topic either, so the more people are in a call to connect their knowledge and topics the better :slight_smile:

@MariaEuler, I will plan to join the next call then. I will be in NY so it will be easier! Looking forward to talking soon!

@Leonie maybe the “small data” approach described in opposition to the so often buzzed “big data” as described in this article about designing tech for assault survivors is useful for you: Can tech design for survivors? How sex, violence, and power are encoded into the design and implementation of data/AI-driven sexual misconduct reporting systems - #3 by MariaEuler

1 Like

Hi @Leonie If you want to find out I suggest hanging out at Chaos Communication Club in Berlin and asking around. People there will be plugged into various activist efforts they may not want to talk about publicly… But one group that has been public about their efforts are Freifunk.

One issue here is surveillance - I would say that at the moment the balance between benefits if connectivity on the one sige and on the other side danger posed to refugees especially people without papers is unclear.

One approach I really love is that of my students . The privacy-by-design approach of having only physical - not connected artefacts is one that keeps the internet at arms length. Also it reminds us that a a crucial facilitator of meeting needs is a kind of social engineering rather than tech…

Another good resource is the repository of edgeryders community members work on this topic - Migration - Edgeryders

1 Like

Thank you for this, @nadia. I actually have contacts at Chaos already, and will explore this more through them!

1 Like