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Social media, mutual aid and solidarity movements as a response to institutional breakdown
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The chapter explores citizen initiatives in response to the ‘European refugee crisis’, based on online ethnography of Facebook groups and crowdfunders in the UK and Italy. Social media plays a central role in these initiatives. It is used by refugees to organise the journey (often in unsafe and clandestine conditions). Social media is also used by solidarity groups to organise donations, hosting, medical help and other forms of mutual aid, in the face of xenophobic public attitudes and state hostility – and in Italy, the criminalisation of solidarity. However, there are questions to be asked about the implications of using social media platforms which are the property of Silicon Valley tech giants, and are not publicly accountable. The chapter ends with an exploration of anti-refugee groups in both countries, and their use of social media platforms to spread hate and circulate conspiracy theories.

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