Post 6: Analysing opinions on Asylum Seekers and Refugees

Scraping the web for data allows one to gain an insight into what a broad, but generalised swathe of what the online community thinks. This was particularly relevant in my interest with Refugee and Asylum Seeker issues as I find the differing perspectives and opinions very insightful.


With the Advanced Search on Twitter, I started quite broadly. I used simple hashtags and key terms such as ‘refugee’, ‘asylum’ and ‘migrant’ to try and gauge the general, majority opinion that Twitter users were broadcasting, both in Australia and overseas. Along with this, by doing the Twitter scrape via Google documents, I was able to further filter these keywords and build upon my initial findings.


The majority of tweets which were picked up revolved around Australia’s treatment of refugees since the issue of detention centres and border control systems are so highly criticised in recent times, as well as these issues being prominent in the media. In addition to this, Australia was contrasted with other countries in regard to discussing how these countries approach the issue of refugees, with users highlighting the differences in policy between these nations.


The five key points that I took from this exercise were:


  1. Most tweets from within Australia seemed quite left-wing and supportive of refuges, with more popular tweets being created by the news media and NGO’s such as the Refugee Council of Australia and the ABC. There was a lot of critique about the mistreatment of asylum seekers and support in closing down the detention centres.
  2. Children have become the unofficial face of the issues. Tweets which linked to articles about specific events, rather than general trends, usually contained imagery of children. These tweets linked the effect the current treatment of refugees and asylum seekers to the innocence of youth.
  3. No single hashtag was predominant. In my previous research so far, the only major hashtag that could be relevant to refugees would be the negative #stoptheboats or also general tweets in regards to #humanrights, #manus and #nauru, as well as #qanda which continuously resurfaces the debate with refugees consistently.
  4. There was much more news media coverage as compared to individual tweets, though this is most likely a result of the algorithm favouring tweets which received a high number of likes or retweets, both of which a media page is more likely to receive.
  5. Contrast between our society versus the refugee.


Below are a few screenshots of my process:


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