Giving Compass' Take:

· Although technology has provided a platform for immigrants and refugees to share their stories, digital litter has made it hard to identify the truth. Here, Meghan Benton explains how digital litter can be harmful for migrants and refugees, and how it can corrupt social movements.

· What can be done to eliminate the threat of these false publications? What role can philanthropy play in elevating facts? 

· Read about truth decay in the age of digital media.

Digital innovation has been one of the defining responses to record global humanitarian displacement and particular crises, such as the European refugee and migration crisis in 2015-16. In the past several years, the imagery of the smartphone-wielding asylum seeker has spurred countless policy reports, funding streams, and hackathons—as well as a new generation of apps to help newcomers navigate ocean and land crossings or connect with enthusiastic volunteers. These initiatives have rightly been celebrated for their desire to improve access to information and services for refugees—think of the creation, seemingly overnight, in Europe of Refugees Welcome (the so-called Airbnb for refugees) or coding schools for refugees. But in some cases, creativity has come at the expense of sustainability, with damaging consequences when information is outdated or outright incorrect.

Poor-quality information spread online or through digital tools, apps, and social media is undermining refugee and migrant decision-making and placing them in harm’s way. Dozens of clearinghouses, online maps, and platforms purporting to consolidate educational and other opportunities for refugees are now full of broken hyperlinks or touting things that no longer exist. Jobs websites, for example, set up at the height of the European migration crisis contain only a handful of old jobs. People on the move rely on accurate information to plan journeys, understand how to comply with visa and enforcement rules, identify legal channels for migration, get information about legal and working rights, and access vital services. Without this, they are more likely to fall prey to smugglers, choose illegal and disorderly channels, or end up working in the informal economy.

Read the full article about digital litter by Meghan Benton at Migration Policy Institute.