traffickers use Facebook to sell desperate migrants trips to Europe
which often end in death, Theresa May warned EU chiefs.
human smuggling gangs peddle their services like travel agents
across social media, with 539 pages referred to Europol by British
police last year. One page even offered discounts for children.
Prime Minister urged EU leaders to confront social media sites
hosting the sick ads over dinner in Salzburg.
said tonight: “We must tackle the enabling environment – all those
factors that make it far too easy for criminal networks to emerge
and grow, putting migrants’ lives at such risk.”
ads paint a picture of safe, comfortable travel to the EU.
in reality, refugees and economic migrants clamber aboard ramshackle
wooden and inflatable boats, packed tightly together for the
dangerous journey across the Mediterranean from the North African
have no lifejackets and last year an estimated 3,500 migrants
drowned attempting the crossing. About 1,000 victims had perished by
June this year trying to reach the EU.
senior UK official said of the social media posts: “They are
appearing in a form that we would consider adverts and are clearly
designed to make the idea of being smuggled into Europe an
attractive and largely risk-free choice, which clearly it is not.
is why we want these things removing as soon as possible.”
some other social media sites also hosted ads for trafficking, the
official added: “In the majority of cases we are aware of it has
attack by the PM is the latest blow to Facebook, which has
previously been accused of taking too long to take down child abuse
images, far-right content and terrorist videos.
tech giant has also faced claims of tax avoidance for switching
revenues between different countries which, experts said, could be
done to minimise tax payments.
denies avoiding tax and insists it pays all money due. But in 2014,
it forked out just £4,327 in Britain, and in 2016 it coughed up
£5.1million on sales of £842million and £58million profit.
EU Council President Donald Tusk hailed a fall in the number of
illegal migrants making their way to Europe.
dropped from two million in 2015 to fewer than 100,000 this year.
is less than in the years before the migration crisis,” he said as
an informal EU summit got under way in the Austrian Alps. “Things
are moving in the right direction.”
in a thinly veiled rebuke to EU countries like Hungary, which has
turned away migrants, he added: “We should focus on what works and
just get on with it. We can no longer be divided into those who want
to solve the problem of illegal migrant flow and those who want to
use it for political gain.”
month the National Crime Agency accused Facebook of allowing
people-smugglers to lure migrants to their deaths in the
top law enforcement agency said the tech giant was failing to stop
ads being posted by criminals.
revealed it had found more than 800 Facebook pages linked to
organised crime gangs involved in ferrying migrants into and across
Europe for money.
could even be profiting from the brazen ads.
the firm is not accused of accepting money directly from
traffickers, it could benefit from desperate migrants clicking on to
using Facebook boost the firm’s user figures, which can be used to
sell advertising space to legitimate companies.
deputy director Tom Dowdall said migrant deaths in the Mediterranean
remained high –more than 1,500 so far this year – and that victims
were too often being recruited via Facebook.
are being lured to their deaths using an application they are using
every day of the week,” he said.
December 2016, we have identified over 800 Facebook pages which we
consider as being associated with organised immigration crime. That
is largely offering vessels, documents, transport services.
is enough we are seeing to indicate to us that it supports
insisted it was taking the problem seriously.
smuggling is illegal and any posts, pages or groups that coordinate
this activity are not allowed on Facebook,” it said.
work closely with law enforcement agencies around the world,
including Europol, to identify, remove and report illegal activity.”