The Home Secretary’s action comes as the number of migrants trying to reach the UK soars again, and amid growing anger in Government that tech companies are allowing people-smugglers to use their platforms to advertise their criminal services. One video showing migrants travelling from Calais to Dover has been seen more than 800,000 times on Chinese-owned TikTok.
In the strongly worded letter which has been seen by this newspaper, Ms Patel asks the internet giants to ‘put an end to the exploitation of your platforms by criminals involved in organised immigration crime’ as more people than ever are making ‘incredibly dangerous journeys across the Channel’.
Priti Patel has ordered social media giants including Facebook and Twitter to remove posts that ‘glamorise’ illegal Channel crossings, The Mail on Sunday can reveal
Trafficking gangs use the sites, which also include Instagram and YouTube, to advertise illegal boat crossings as well as fake passport and visa services
Trafficking gangs use the sites, which also include Instagram and YouTube, to advertise illegal boat crossings as well as fake passport and visa services. Ms Patel warns in her letter, which was sent yesterday: ‘Posts which promote and even glamorise these lethal and illegal crossings, either by boat or in the back of lorries, are totally unacceptable.
‘What these posts and adverts do not 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.’
In a powerful plea, she adds: ‘These adverts directly lead to loss of life and I implore you to do everything in your power to quickly and proactively remove posts related to illegal crossings before more men, women and children die in the Channel or on other illegal migration routes. Now is the time to act before it is too late.’
At least 4,300 Channel migrants have already arrived in the UK this year, including more than 1,000 in the past week.
The annual total is expected to exceed the 8,400 who made the journey in 2020 and the numbers are rising despite Ms Patel’s pledge to make illegal immigration across the Channel ‘unviable’.
It was reported yesterday that the Border Agency, for which Ms Patel is responsible, had helped migrants to enter Britain after the Navy ship HMC Valiant picked them up in French waters and took them to Dover.
In a recorded maritime radio conversation, the officers discussed the ‘legality’ of the operation before heading over to the French side of the Channel and launching an inflatable boat to collect the migrants.
Ms Patel decided to act after being advised by the National Crime Agency (NCA) that social media was playing an increasingly key role in the people-smuggling business
Ms Patel’s intervention is a sign of a growing determination within Government to tackle the power and influence of tech giants.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday helped to broker a historic deal among the G7 countries with the world’s most advanced economies to stop companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google from channelling their profits through low-tax regimes.
Under the deal, finance ministers agreed to set a global minimum corporation tax rate of 15 per cent in tandem with a measure to force global companies with at least a ten per cent profit margin to pay taxes in the countries where they sell their services.
It comes after a subsidiary of Microsoft was revealed last week to have paid zero corporation tax on £222 billion profit last year because it was resident in Bermuda for tax purposes.
Ms Patel decided to act after being advised by the National Crime Agency (NCA) that social media was playing an increasingly key role in the people-smuggling business. The NCA will now work with tech companies to swiftly identify and remove content related to the migrant crossings. Fewer than half of posts targeted by the law enforcers have been taken down.
The video showing a group of men crossing the Channel in a flimsy dinghy went viral after it was placed on TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. It has attracted more than 37,000 likes and over 24,000 comments. Meanwhile, action by the Home Office and the NCA to close the established Channel routes has forced the trafficking gangs to make longer and more perilous journeys, launching from points anywhere along around 125 miles of coastline to evade detection. It means migrants can spend up to 13 hours at sea.
The Home Office is trying to combat the social media activities of the gangs by posting its own content on the platforms containing information on the safe alternative options available to migrants
The Home Office is trying to combat the social media activities of the gangs by posting its own content on the platforms containing information on the safe alternative options available to migrants.
Ms Patel has also called on the French to do more to tackle the migrant vessels at sea. Currently, President Emmanuel Macron’s government will only intervene if the migrants ask for help.
Separately, an investigation by the MoS today reveals how a ‘cat and mouse’ game played by foreign criminals and failed asylum seekers in British courts as they try to avoid deportation is costing the taxpayer at least £200 million every year.