Home Office to pay TikTok influencers to deter migrants from crossing Channel

The government has defended plans to pay TikTok influencers from other countries, with the aim of reducing the number of people crossing the channel

The Home Office will pay influencers to urge others on TikTok not to cross the English Channel in small boats, it has emerged.

Social media influencers will be offered thousands of pounds to post content deterring people in countries where migrants often originate, such as Albania, by talking about new immigration laws and the threat of deportation to Rwanda.

A Home Office spokesperson said the department makes "no apologies for using every means necessary to stop the boats and save lives."

"People smugglers frequently use social media to peddle lies and promote their criminal activities, and it is vital that we utilise the same platforms to inform migrants about the truths about crossing the Channel and coming to the UK illegally," they said in a statement.

TikTok's popularity has boomed in recent years. Credit: PA

"The relentless action we have taken reduced crossings by 36% last year, which saw similar weather conditions to 2022."

The Times reported that a shortlist of influencers has been drawn up in Albania with the help of a private market consultancy.

The list includes a rapper, two comedians, lifestyle bloggers, TV personalities and a travel writer.

The Home Office has a budget of about £30,000 to pay the Albanian influencers, who have been chosen for their ability to appeal to young men.

Cost would be capped at £5,000 per person.

More than 1,000 migrants have arrived in the UK so far this year after crossing the Channel.

TikTok, a video-sharing platform owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has boomed in popularity over recent years, and is now estimated to have over one billion users.

The scheme is designed to evade the ban on government use of TikTok after security concerns were raised surrounding its privacy policy.

It means the Home Office, or any government official, cannot advertise directly on the app.

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover. Credit: PA

The process follows additional deterrence campaigns that have been in the works for three years with activity in Albania, France, and Belgium, the Home Office said.

Home Office paid-for social media activity in Albania has already reached over 946,000 people.

They seek to educate prospective migrants and their support networks about the risks and repercussions of dangerous and illegal travel to UK.

But the £1 million advertising blitz will also include positive role models and opportunities available in Albania, according to the government.

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