The potential of Facebook advertising data for understanding flows of people from Ukraine to the European Union
Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography, European Commission—Joint Research Centre, Via E. Fermi, 2749, I-21027, Ispra, (VA), Italy
2 Institute for Quantitative Social Sciences, Harvard University, 1737 Cambridge St, K333, 02138, Cambridge, (MA), United States
3 Global Relations and Cooperation Directorate, OECD Istanbul Centre, Asmalı Mescit, Meşrutiyet Cd. No:63, 34430, 02138, Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Accepted: 21 November 2022
Published online: 6 December 2022
This work contributes to the discussion on how innovative data can support a fast crisis response. We use operational data from Facebook to gain useful insights on where people fleeing Ukraine following the Russian invasion are likely to be displaced, focusing on the European Union. In this context, it is extremely important to anticipate where these people are moving so that local and national authorities can better manage challenges related to their reception and integration. By means of the audience estimates provided by Facebook advertising platform, we analyse the flows of people fleeing Ukraine towards the European Union. At the fifth week since the beginning of the war, our results indicate an increase in the number of Ukrainian stocks derived from Ukrainian-speaking Facebook user estimates in all the European Union (EU) countries, with Poland registering the highest percentage share (33%) of the overall increase, followed by Germany (17%), and Czechia (15%). We assess the reliability of prewar Facebook estimates by comparison with official statistics on the Ukrainian diaspora, finding a strong correlation between the two data sources (Pearson’s , ). We then compare our results with data on refugees in EU countries bordering Ukraine reported by the UNHCR, and we observe a similarity in their trend. In conclusion, we show how Facebook advertising data could offer timely insights on international mobility during crises, supporting initiatives aimed at providing humanitarian assistance to the displaced people, as well as local and national authorities to better manage their reception and integration.
Key words: Ukraine / Armed conflict / Crisis response / Human migration / Innovative data / Facebook
© The Author(s) 2022
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