Alexandra A. Siegel | Jessica Wolff | Jeremy Weinstein

Despite an emergent body of literature examining refugees’ use of online tools to access information, little is known about what types of information refugees encounter or engage with. Analyzing 143,201 posts and 802,173 comments on public Arabic-language Facebook pages targeting Syrian refugees from 2013 to 2018, we systematically describe one of Syrian refugees’ most popular online information ecosystems. Additionally, we use engagement and comment data to develop organic measures of refugees’ interactions with different information sources. We find that posts linking to official sources of information garnered more engagement than those containing unofficial information or news media content, regardless of the topic or tone of the message. Disaggregating our data over time reveals that official sources did not receive higher levels of engagement until early 2016, when new official sources created by governments and NGOs became active online and began to more consistently provide information about salient topics from asylum to sea travel. These new official sources also produced more encouraging messages relative to older official sources, perhaps heightening their appeal. By analyzing the online prevalence, content, and popularity of diverse information sources, this work contributes to our understanding of how vulnerable populations access information in the digital age, while offering policy insights to governments and NGOs seeking to disseminate information to refugees.