Finding a path through the channel is as easy as typing the word “smuggling” into Facebook.
Far from being an underworld, Sky News has discovered that a network of smugglers is operating openly on the social media platform.
Routes to Europe and the UK are regularly highlighted, with flyers showing pictures of Union Jack and Big Ben.
One smuggler even claimed that he would be able to obtain a British passport for clients.
It’s about 27 people dying during that trying to cross the channel, One of the worst death tolls in recent years.
Many have tried to cross They come from countries like Iran, Syria and IraqA large number of Iraqi Kurds are attempting this perilous journey.
Sky News searched on Facebook for terms written in Kurdish and Arabic such as “smuggling” and “UK visa”, as well as sites such as Calais, Dunkirk and England.
These findings provoked smugglers who advertise routes, list their phone numbers and invite people to write to them privately for more information, such as costs.
There is no indication that Facebook is taking any revenue for the content.
This post claims that customers will be able to legally travel to the UK within three days and that the trip will take place in the “best, safest and easiest way”.
One of the most prolific smugglers to post on Facebook is a man who says he lives in the Kurdish region of Iraq.
He claims to be able to get immigrants into a number of countries, including the United Kingdom. In this ad, he promotes a route from Dunkirk to the UK at a “reasonable price”.
On his personal Facebook page, he describes himself as “putting trust before profit”. His cover photo – one at the top of the page – is a passport and boarding pass.
He often posts several ads a week, many with the same wording. It claims in its advertisements that it offers guarantees in addition to being able to offer “the lowest price and the shortest time”.
To encourage potential clients, the smuggler has posted a number of passports and visas that he claims to have obtained.
Like many other smugglers on the platform, he uses photos of landmarks to help grab people’s attention.
Here, a different smuggler posts his ad along with photos of Union Jack and Big Ben. He claims in his letter that he will be able to “make you a British passport”.
Its display is remarkable, with 210 people liked the post and about 30 comments under it.
One of the men wrote: “Hello brother, I want to talk to you.” The smuggler replied, “Dear brother, send me a mail,” and invites him to send him a private message directly.
Images of carrier aircraft bearing the European flag were also used.
In this ad, a smuggler shows British Airways and Air France planes. The last photo in his post includes a phone number to contact him. The airline images are used without permission and there is no indication that British Airways or Air France are aware that the images are being used in this way.
Some advertisements do not rely on promises, guarantees and glossy images of the United Kingdom. A smuggler simply posts that he can take people from France to Britain and provides a number.
Many ads are placed on pages that are primarily used for other reasons, ranging from general community pages to those of an electronic merchandise store.
However, some pages have been set up specifically to discuss smuggling and to attract those looking to get to the UK and elsewhere.
One example of this is a group page called “Smuggling to Europe with a guarantee”. Profile and cover photos are portraits of immigrants taken from news websites. It has nearly 800 members.
One of the Page’s most recent posts was on November 10 of a video showing migrants in Dunkirk, France.
Another video shared on these pages includes a video from the TikTok social media app. It shows part of the journey between Calais and the United Kingdom.
It’s not just about posting smugglers’ ads. People post questions about costs and methods. They also share news about other migrants crossing.
A man asks if a German visa will enable him to enter Britain. A profile that appears to belong to a smuggler says it doesn’t work. The first man adds that if anyone can get to Germany, they can try to get to the UK “on foot”.
Another man asks how much it will cost to enter Britain.
He shares the latest news on the large number of immigrants who died on Wednesday.
Five months ago, Priti Patel wrote to social media companies including Facebook, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube. She said there was more to be done to remove existing posts “Making magic” at the dangerous migrant crossings.
A spokesperson for Meta, the owner of Facebook, told Sky News: “Our thoughts go to all those affected by these tragic events.
“Coordinating people smuggling is not allowed on Facebook and we are working with law enforcement to address it.
“We use a combination of artificial intelligence technology, human review, and reports from our users and trusted partners to detect and remove such posts.”
Sky News understands that the pages brought to Facebook’s attention are now under investigation and will be removed if found to be in violation of the platform’s policies.
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