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

This EMN Inform provides an overview of the use of social media in migrant smuggling.

Background information

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

The Inform 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.

Inform: some findings

  • Social media has been increasingly used in recent years by both smugglers and migrants (e.g. to communicate, to provide/receive information on migration routes…) as it is less costly, safer to use and more effective in increasing visibility and reaching a wider group of migrants.
  • The use of social media has played an important role in 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 and the Council Conclusions on migrant smuggling of 10th March 2016 called for, amongst others: 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 (i) detect and assist in removing content related to migrant smuggling (preventive) and (ii) detected content can also be used as e-evidence in criminal proceedings (investigative). The majority of Member States as well as EU agencies perform monitoring activities, but there is scope for further improvement. Many challenges obstruct monitoring activities (e.g. anonymity of users, encryption, the use of the dark net, etc.). The use of e-evidence in criminal proceedings remains a procedural challenge (with regard to territoriality/jurisdiction rules).

  • There is a need to further strengthen public-private partnerships to fight migrant smuggling.
Publication Date:
Wed 19 Oct 2016
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