Thousands of Social Media Takedowns Hit People Smugglers

The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has hailed a “landmark agreement” with the big five social media companies, which it claimed is helping law enforcers disrupt the work of people smugglers.

The Home Office-backed agreement was finalized around a year ago with Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

Acting on intelligence supplied by the NCA, the social media firms have during the intervening time removed or suspended over 3300 posts, pages or accounts associated with people smuggling and organized crime, the agency claimed.

“The past year has seen a strong partnership develop between ourselves and the main social media companies, with the aim of preventing organized crime groups utilizing their platforms. Our understanding is growing all the time, and we now have a solid foundation which we can build on by working together,” said NCA director of threat leadership, Chris Farrimond.

“Tragically this last year has also seen a number of fatalities both in the English Channel and further afield in the Mediterranean. This hammers home to us all the need to do more to stop these crime groups who treat their fellow humans as a commodity to be profited from with no regard for their safety or security.”

Read more on tech’s role in human trafficking: Europol “Hackathon” Identifies Scores of Human Trafficking Victims.

The NCA said it currently has over 90 investigations open into networks or individuals in “the top tier” of people smuggling or human trafficking – the highest since the agency was founded nearly a decade ago.

Immigration minister, Robert Jenrick, said a new Illegal Migration Bill would give immigration officers new powers to seize electronic devices from people who come to the UK illegally, enabling them to track the people smugglers who made it possible.

Yet the same bill has been widely criticized, including by the United Nations refugee agency, for preventing legitimate asylum seekers from claiming refuge in the country. That in turn would only swell the numbers desperately turning to human traffickers, it has been argued.

Editorial image credit: Primakov /

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