“The details that asylum seekers publish on social media may allow for conclusions to be drawn that are significant in asylum proceedings – indications about family relations, for example,” a spokesperson for the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) told Swiss weekly NZZ am Sonntag.
The SEM has now set up a working group to look at “if, how and under what conditions” data on social media could be used in reviewing asylum applications, the spokesperson said.
The statement comes in the wake of a case of a Nigerian man who applied for asylum in Switzerland in 2016.
During a hearing into his application, the man who had no valid identity papers said he was being persecuted in his home country. However, he made contradictory statements about his background.
When his claims were investigated it emerged the man had not travelled to Switzerland from Nigeria but from Spain. Photos posted by his wife on Facebook showed that he had been living in Mallorca under a different name and had owned a business on the Spanish island.
Immigration authorities rejected the man’s asylum claim and an appeal based on the fact the SEM had used Facebook posts as evidence was rejected.
Current Swiss asylum rules only state that authorities may make clarifications regarding an asylum seeker’s identity”. NZZ am Sonntag, noted for example, that linguists are often used to investigate the identity of asylum seekers from Eritrea.