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Tuesday, Jun 15, 2021

Priti Patel blames surge in migrant crossings on Facebook, Twitter and TikTok

Priti Patel blames surge in migrant crossings on Facebook, Twitter and TikTok

Social media platforms allowing videos of migrant crossings to go viral share the blame for a surge in dangerous attempts to reach British shores, the Home Secretary has said.

Almost 600 people were intercepted while trying to cross the Channel in a three-day period this week.

Priti Patel said posts which ‘promote and even glamourise these lethal crossings’ are ‘totally unacceptable’.

In a letter to the companies behind Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok she urged bosses to do more to take the clips down.

It comes after footage appearing to show a group of men crossing the Channel in a dinghy went viral on TikTok this week.

The Home Office says such posts are used by people smugglers to promote crossings to desperate migrants.

Ms Patel wrote: ‘Posts which promote and even glamourise these lethal crossings are totally unacceptable. They encourage others to leave a safe European country and put theirs and their family’s life at risk and are even used by people smugglers to promote their deadly business.

‘What these posts don’t mention are the people who have died trying to make this crossing, or those forced to spend 13 hours in unseaworthy boats in freezing waters.

Hundreds of people have been intercepted by border guards this week

‘Working with the National Crime Agency, social media companies have made progress in removing these horrendous posts, but they must quickly and proactively remove posts related to illegal crossings before more men, women and children die in the Channel. Now is the time to act before it is too late.’

The Home Secretary has repeatedly vowed to make the Channel crossing ‘unviable’.

The number of people attempting the 21-mile route, which can be highly dangerous, has almost doubled so far this year compared to the same period in 2020.

More than 3,100 people this year had reached English shores this way by the end of May.

A spokesman for Facebook said: ‘People smuggling is illegal and any ads, posts, pages or groups that co-ordinate this activity are not allowed on Facebook.

The Home Secretary accused social media firms of failing to do enough

‘We will continue to work closely with law enforcement agencies around the world including the NCA and Europol to identify, remove and report this illegal activity.’

Enver Solomon, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, said the government’s approach to tackling Channel crossings isn’t working and is destined to fail.

He added: ‘The reality is that when fleeing war, terror and persecution, ordinary people are forced to take extraordinary steps to seek safety in another country.

‘Instead of relying solely on an enforcement approach to stop the crossings, this government needs to expand safe routes so that people don’t have to risk their lives taking dangerous journeys at the mercy of criminals and people smugglers.

‘Creating safe and regular routes to the UK – through an expanded resettlement programme, humanitarian visas and reforming the restrictive family reunion rules – is the way to effectively address the issue.’


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