As one of the worst crises of the century continues in Syria, media representations of refugees by humanitarian organizations shape how audiences perceive the crisis. This article focuses on representations of Syrian refugees in UNICEF’s media projects. Drawing on case studies of Unfairy Tales and the #ChildrenofSyria blog, the following interrelated questions are addressed: How are Syrian refugees represented? Who has the authority and the voice to produce media about Syrian refugees? How does whiteness shape representations of Syrian refugees in digital media spaces? How do user engagement, spammers, and bots produce vulnerabilities in digital humanitarian communication? The goal of this study is to highlight how the good intention of raising awareness of the refugee crisis challenges the authority and the voice of participants. This examination relies on critical discourse analysis and theories of representation, critical race, authorship, and documentary studies. The study identifies how the platform design, user engagement, and racial codification of refugees contribute to a power (a)symmetry between depicted Syrian refugees, media makers, and audiences. This article is part of the special issue “Media, Migration, and Nationalism” of the journal Global Perspectives, Media and Communication, guest-edited by Koen Leurs and Tomohisa Hirata.

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