Adversarial Audit

Social Media &the Representationof Migrants

What is the impact of social media on the representation and voice of migrants and refugees in Europe? What are the challenges and opportunities to avoid their invisibilization and promote a fair representation?

Migrants · Social Media · Algorithmic Bias ·

Migrants and refugees are often misrepresented and denied agency, voice, and the right to be represented as complex human beings in European media. This report is a comprehensive analysis of the causes of this misrepresentation and lack of representation,  and explores the role of social media in shaping public opinion, dealing with the following topics:

  • Social media platforms are developed and administered with little transparency and accountability, and their algorithms create bias, misrepresentation, discrimination, and suppression of voices. 
  • Social media content moderation, shadowbanning, personalization, and targeted advertising work and affect the representation of marginalized groups. 
  • Social media content often stereotypes and reduces the complexities of migrants and refugees’ stories, and creates new forms of digital surveillance that threaten their rights. 

All these dynamics create and allow for new forms of manipulation of reality that affect us all, but hit harder the representation of marginalized social groups like migrants and refugees.


YouTube’s algorithm reinforces a dehumanizing view of migrants

Migrants and refugees are often depicted in a negative light on this platform, predominantly as non-white individuals crossing borders. This perpetuates their dehumanization and stereotyping, which can have real-world consequences on how they are perceived and treated by society.

Full Report

TikTok wants to entertain, not talk about politics

Being one of the most popular and influential social media platforms, TikTok can also affect the political discourse on migration. However, the audit found that TikTok’s recommender system shows little variation in recommended content regardless of users’ attitudes towards migration and their location’s political leaning. 

The platform’s weak personalization for political content indicates that TikTok’s focus is primarily on entertainment rather than politics.

Full Report

The Digital Services Act (DSA) will require digital services companies, including social networks, to conduct independent audits and risk assessments to ensure a safe digital space in which the fundamental rights of users are protected.