UK Conservatives Consider Banning Videos Showing Illegal Migrant Crossings in a ‘Positive Light’

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dungeness, Kent, after being rescued by the RNLI following a small boat incident in the Channel. Picture date: Friday December 9, 2022. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)
Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images

The British government is considering forcing tech companies to remove videos that show illegal boat migrant crossings of the English Channel in a “positive light” in order to reduce the social media pull factor.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said on Tuesday that as a part of the upcoming Online Safety Bill, which seeks to add further restrictions on the internet in Britain by threatening to fine non-compliant social media companies up to ten per cent of their annual turnover, the government will seek to add amendments to the legislation “to better tackle illegal immigration encouraged by organised gangs”.

“Aiding, abetting, counselling, conspiring etc. those offences by posting videos of people crossing the channel which show that activity in a positive light could be an offence that is committed online,” Donelan said in a statement reported by Reuters.

The potential amendment would make the posting of certain videos of illegals crossing the Channel an offence by tying it to immigration offences already on the books.

In December, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak laid out his his plan to deal with the migrant crisis, which saw a record 45,000 illegals land on British shores last year, alone. Sunak’s plan mainly focussed on coming to an agreement with Albania to speed up the deportations of migrants from the Muslim Balkan country, which has become one of the top countries of origin for illegal migration over the past year.

Numerous reports have emerged of alleged criminal gangs from Albania using social media platforms such as the Chinese-owned Tik Tok to promote the ease at which illegals can cross into the country via people smuggling routes as well as advertising the money making opportunities in selling drugs in the UK once they have arrived.

Last month, Albania’s ambassador to the UK, Qirjako Qirko blamed the rise in the number of migrants coming from his country on videos from Tik Tok and Facebook.

“I have been in contact with some people. Some of them explained that ‘yes, we are victims of TikTok and Facebook. We have come here because we thought it would be easy to start a business.’ Yesterday I was talking with a gentleman from the south of Albania. In Albania, he was running a small bar in the city. He told me that there was some opportunity to open this kind of business in the UK, ‘but after three weeks I saw it was not possible to do this kind of business’,” the ambassador told the Home Affairs Committee. 

Commenting on the proposal to ban such videos, Brexit leader Nigel Farage said: “I don’t think they’ve got the power to actually do that. I doubt it will ever happen, but if we do start monitoring Tik Tok and do start making sure that those videos come down as soon as they go up, it will at least help stopping people crossing the Channel.”

“Let’s see if the government actually has the courage to carry out what it says,” Farage added.

While the proposal to censor videos of migrant activity may indeed lessen the reach of people smuggling gangs attempting to recruit more illegals, it also raises the question of whether the legislation could be used to target citizen journalists who film the Border Force taking migrants ashore after collecting them halfway through the Channel. It is also unclear as to what would define presenting the illegal crossings in a “positive light” under the proposed law change.

Indeed, over the past three years Nigel Farage himself has frequently filmed from the English Channel for his YouTube channel and later for GB News, often showing the French Navy escorting migrants across the busy waterway only to be picked up by the British Border Force and taken ashore.

Under the guise of enforcing lockdown restrictions in 2020, the Brexiteer was visited by police after filming migrants arriving at Dover.

The waves of illegals crossing the Channel continued on Wednesday, with 106 migrants braving the freezing conditions to make the journey from the beaches of France, bringing the total since the start of the year to over 150.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.