Welcome or Not-Welcome: Reactions to Refugee Situation on Social Media

Asmelash Teka Hadgu, Kaweh Djafari Naini, Claudia Niederée

For many European countries, in 2015 the refugee situation developed from a remote tragedy reported upon in the news to a situation they have to deal with in their own neighborhood. Driven by this observation, we investigated the development of the perception of the refugee situation during 2015 in Twitter. Starting from a dataset of 1.7 Million tweets covering refugee-related topics from May to December 2015, we investigated how the discussion on refugees changed over time, in different countries as well as in relationship with the evolution of the actual situation. In this paper we report and discuss our findings from checking a set of hypotheses, such as that the closeness to the actual situation would influence the intensity and polarity of discussions and that news media takes a mediating role between the actual and perceived refugee situation.

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