Child Smugglers Are Advertising Online

Child Smugglers Are Advertising Online

( – By now we’re all used to so-called “influencers” trying to persuade us to buy this product, support that political cause, or adopt the latest fashion trend. Now it seems social media is also being exploited by criminal gangs. People traffickers have started using smartly produced videos to promote their illegal services.

Social media platforms like Twitter and TikTok are full of videos made by influencers. Usually, the videos promote restaurants, vacation spots or clothes but there is also a growing number that offer more sinister services. Human smugglers, known as “coyotes,” are dangerous criminals who lead illegal immigrants across the US-Mexico border, often taking them along dangerous routes where many die of drowning or dehydration. However, their videos promote illegal migration as a big adventure, with the prize of a new life in the US at the end of it.

These videos push an upbeat message about illegal border crossings. Making good use of the latest technology and filmed with high production values, they show happy migrants walking along trails, crossing rivers on boats, and being welcomed to the US with balloons at the end of the journey. They also provide contact details, so any would-be border crossers with the money to pay the coyote’s fees can get in touch and arrange their own illegal entry to this country.

Of course, the reality is very different. Trafficking casualties only make the news when things go spectacularly wrong, like the death of 58 migrants in a trailer last June, but people die attempting to cross our border all the time. There are also stories of migrants being forced to work for free until they pay off their debt or their families back home being threatened. One thing the videos make clear, though, is that the immigrants entering this country aren’t desperate people fleeing war or oppression. They’re customers who were sold a product through social media.

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