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Keywords:

  • MIGRATION NETWORKS;
  • MIGRANT NETWORKS;
  • SOCIAL TIES;
  • SOCIAL CAPITAL;
  • THE INTERNET;
  • SOCIAL MEDIA

Abstract

We argue that social media are not only new communication channels in migration networks, but also that they actively transform the nature of these networks and thereby facilitate migration. Despite some limitations, which stem from the ‘digital divide’ and the lower trustworthiness of virtual ties, qualitative data reveal four relevant ways in which social media facilitate international migration. First, they enhance the possibilities of maintaining strong ties with family and friends. Second, they address weak ties that are relevant to organizing the process of migration and integration. Third, they establish a new infrastructure consisting of latent ties. Fourth, they offer a rich source of insider knowledge on migration that is discrete and unofficial. This makes potential migrants ‘streetwise’ when undertaking migration. Based on these empirical findings we conclude that social media are transforming migration networks and thereby lowering the threshold for migration.