Prime Minister criticises Facebook and social media companies over migrant trafficking adverts and says Online Safety Bill will empower the Government to force tech giants to remove them
- Boris Johnson said ‘too many gangs’ were advertising trafficking services online
- Some smugglers are openly posting routes online and offering British passports
- Mr Johnson said legislation would allow them to force tech giants to remove ads
The Prime Minister has condemned Facebook and other social media companies after it was revealed people smugglers were advertising online.
Boris Johnson said too many criminal gangs were using social media to advertise their services openly on various platforms.
He added that the Government’s Online Safety Bill would help tackle the problem and allow them to force companies such as Facebook and others to remove the harmful content.
Last week, it was revealed that people traffickers were openly advertising their services on various online platforms, showing routes into the UK and some even promising to supply British passports for their customers.
Boris Johnson said too many gangs were using Facebook and other online platforms to advertise people smuggling services openly and said new legislation would tackle the issue
The revelation came just days after 27 people died while trying to cross the channel but many still try attempt to reach the UK despite the tragedy.
Boris Johnson’s comments came after he was questioned about what could be done to tackle the problem of social media adverts for channel crossings at Prime Ministers Questions yesterday.
Damian Collins, the Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe, said it was ‘totally unacceptable that companies like Facebook allow those smugglers to offer their services on their platforms… not only routes into the country but also selling them forged British papers in order to aid their access.’
The Conservative MP asked Mr Johnson if the Online Safety Bill would empower the Government to tackle the problem.
The Prime Minister said the MP was ‘absolutely right to say that too many of these gangs are using social media’.
He said the new legislation would ‘be of assistance to us in taking down that kind of material’.
This is the flimsy and dangerous dinghy that sank off Calais, killing 27 people
Boris Johnson also defended the Nationality and Borders Bill will enable Border Force to redirect small boats back towards France.
The plans have received cross-party criticism with some MPs claiming the move would be illegal and against human rights obligations.
However, the Prime Minister defended the legislation and said it would help the Government ‘to fight the evil gangs who are predating on people’s willingness to cross the channel in unseaworthy boats’.
The bill is due back before the House of Commons next week and the Prime Minister urged the opposition to back it, adding: ‘It gives Border Force the power to turn people back at sea, and it gives us the power to send people overseas for screening, rather than doing it in this country.
‘I am not asking the Opposition but telling them: it would be a great thing if they backed our Nationality and Borders Bill and undermined the criminals.’
The number crossing the Channel has surged to 25,776 in 2021, up from 8,461 in 2020 and 1,835 in 2019, according to Home Office data.
This despite Home Secretary Priti Patel pledging £55 million to Paris in June to help France patrol the border – the latest in a long line of similar lump sums provided by the UK taxpayer.