Human smugglers are openly using Facebook to offer migrants passage across the U.S. southern border, according to a new Tech Transparency Project (TTP) investigation that highlights how the social network is contributing to the current border surge.
TTP first noted the presence of human smugglers on Facebook in an April report. Since then, TTP has identified dozens of additional Facebook pages and multiple Facebook groups—with tens of thousands of members—where illegal border crossings are sold.
The human smugglers often show routes, modes of transit, prices, and even discount options to potential customers on Facebook. Many spread misinformation about migrants’ ability to enter the U.S., promising easy and fast asylum. This feeds the false hope on the part of many migrants that they’ll be released by U.S. Border Patrol rather than sent back to Mexico.
TTP also found worrying evidence that some of the smugglers have links to Mexican drug cartels, a sign that larger criminal groups are seeking to capitalize on the migrant surge from Central America—and Facebook’s lax enforcement practices.