Britain’s top law enforcement body, the National Crime Agency, is slamming Facebook for allowing migrants to be ‘lured to their deaths’ in crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
The agency says it found more than 800 Facebook pages linked to organized crime gangs — some of them human traffickers promising to get migrants to Europe.
Tom Dowdall, who leads the National Crime Agency’s fight against human trafficking and modern slavery, said each suspect page that it identified was referred to the EU’s crime fighting body, Europol. While the pages were ultimately taken down, he said Facebook was far too slow to respond and should have done more to prevent the ads from showing up in the first place.
“Our view is if more care was taken I would expect us to be referring much fewer than 800 and certainly not continuing to do referrals,” he explained.
“Organised immigration crime and human trafficking might look like it’s all face to face activity. That isn’t completely true. There is still a significant use put to social media platforms, to websites.”
The Evening Standard reports:
The law enforcers’ rebuke will place fresh pressure on the social media network following growing controversy about its failure to stop fake news, hate speech and other unsuitable material from appearing on its site.
He said that migrant deaths in the Mediterranean – which total more than 1,500 so far this year – remained high and that victims were too often being recruited via Facebook.
“They are being lured to their deaths using an application that they are using every day of the week,” said National Crime Agency’s deputy director Tom Dowdall.
“Facebook have developed a fantastic ability to be able to identify patterns and how everybody operates on a day to day basis,” he added.
“This is no different: there will be patterns that are developed here which we know that Facebook and others can be onto really quickly. We need their cooperation to be able to identify and to either close down these sites or be able to further investigate them.”
MPs part of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee on hate crime and extremism also struck out at Facebook in their report earlier this year.
They wrote that the “biggest and richest social media companies are shamefully far from taking sufficient action to tackle illegal and dangerous content,” failing “to abide by the law, and to keep their users and others safe.”
A spokeswoman for Facebook insisted that the social media company took the issue seriously, saying “any posts, pages or groups that co-ordinate this activity are not allowed on Facebook.”