The Geography of Information Diffusion in Online Discourse on Europe and Migration


  • Elisa Leonardelli Fondazione Bruno Kessler
  • Sara Tonelli Fondazione Bruno Kessler



The online diffusion of information related to Europe and migration has been little investigated from an external point of view. However, this is a very relevant topic, especially if users have had no direct contact with Europe and its perception depends solely on information retrieved online. In this work we analyse the information circulating online about Europe and migration after retrieving a large amount of data from social media (Twitter), to gain new insights into topics, magnitude, and dynamics of their diffusion. We combine retweets and hashtags network analysis with geolocation of users, linking thus data to geography and allowing analysis from an “outside Europe” perspective, with a special focus on Africa. We also introduce a novel approach based on cross-lingual quotes, i.e. when content in a language is commented and retweeted in another language, assuming these interactions are a proxy for connections between very distant communities. Results show how the majority of online discussions occurs at a national level, especially when discussing migration. Language (English) is pivotal for information to become transnational and reach far. Transnational information flow is strongly unbalanced, with content mainly produced in Europe and amplified outside. Conversely Europe-based accounts tend to be self-referential when they discuss migration-related topics. Football is the most exported topic from Europe worldwide. Moreover, important nodes in the communities discussing migration-related topics include accounts of official institutions and international agencies, together with journalists, news, commentators and activists.




How to Cite

Leonardelli, E., & Tonelli, S. (2024). The Geography of Information Diffusion in Online Discourse on Europe and Migration. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, 18(1), 904-916.