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Beware of people traffickers’ false promises through social media, migrants warned

Organised smuggling networks increasingly use online platforms and social media such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Skype, experts have revealed.

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At a recent European Migration Network (EMN) workshop in Brussels, representatives of the EU, the UNHCR, Frontex, EUROPOL and Facebook discussed how migrants use social networks.

They also discussed how migrants can be warned against people traffickers’ false promises and against undertaking dangerous journeys.

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During the workshop it emerged that human smugglers use social media quite openly to offer their services to refugees from Africa or the Near East, in a similar way to travel agencies with photos of cruise ships.

They present themselves as friendly helpers, and lure people with false promises.

Real-life examples show that many refugees seek advice from experienced compatriots on their way to Europe, as they mistrust the European media.

They use messaging services, most of which are available via smartphones, to stay in touch with friends, acquaintances and relatives, who in turn provide them with new contacts.

The experts also noted that social networks play a major role when it comes to combating organised smuggling networks, as they also do in passing on information.

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