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Facebook are Investigating Ads Promising Passage into the EU

Daily Mail

We've written before about people smugglers plying their trade on Facebook. With the ever increasing influx of refugees fleeing from Syria, as well as other parts of the Middle East and Africa, demand for cheap, under-the-radar passage into Europe is on the up.

It's illegal, obviously, but still very difficult to police, even more so for Facebook. Despite their claims of strongly enforced regulations, their enormous user base and murky international policy-making has created a litany of legal loopholes, which many criminal organisations are more than happy to exploit.

People smugglers were recently forced to rethink their approach, as a deal was struck by the EU to deport any refugees arriving in Greece. Almost immediately, a new ad appeared which promised that boats would start travelling from Mersin in Turkey to Italy during the weekend, with spaces on the boats costing £2,780 per head, or four times as much as the charge for the trip to Greece.

The ad started a discussion in which refugees questioned the legitimacy of the offer, prompting those behind it to assure them that their money would be held in escrow by a third party until the trip was completed. What they wouldn't reveal was where in Italy the boat would land, and while it's easy to understand why they might not want to be forthcoming about that, it still raised suspicions.

Following early reports, Facebook pulled the post, and are now investigating the source. More than anything else, this provides an impression of the routes that people smugglers will now be taking refugees on. Trips to Italy from Turkey have been offered in the past, but turned out to be scams. Even if they were legit, smugglers would often abandon the boats, putting them on autopilot and pointing them towards Italy. The results of this approach were often disastrous.

The shutting down of the Greek route is part of a wider bid to increase the amount of refugees taken on by Turkey, as well as an increase in funding and resources. There's even talk of more open, frequent discussion about their incipient EU membership. It won't be possible for Facebook to police all the smuggling routes being run on the platform, with or without the EU's help, but catching even one in the act could help draw a blueprint of general trafficking strategies.

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @Songbird_Callum

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Facebook are Investigating Ads Promising Passage into the EU Reviewed by Unknown on Tuesday, April 05, 2016 Rating: 5

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