Home Secretary Priti Patel has blamed social media giants for the spiralling numbers of asylum seekers making the perilous Channel crossing to Kent.
She says videos on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter “glamourise” the “lethal crossings” and it is “totally unacceptable” the posts have stayed up.
Ms Patel has come under increasing pressure after the numbers of people traversing the world’s busiest shipping lane on flimsy boats surged on her watch.
She has repeatedly vowed to make the route “unviable” but has now written to the web firms demanding they act.
Almost 600 asylum seekers were intercepted attempting to cross the Channel in three days this week.
Ms Patel’s letter, sent on Saturday, follows a viral video posted on TikTok which the Home Office said appeared to show a group of men crossing the Channel in a dinghy.
Similar posts have appeared on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and are used by people smugglers to promote crossings to desperate migrants, the Home Office added.
Ms Patel said: “Posts which promote and even glamourise these lethal crossings are totally unacceptable. They encourage others to leave a safe European country and put theirs and their family’s life at risk and are even used by people smugglers to promote their deadly business.
“What these posts don’t mention are the people who have died trying to make this crossing, or those forced to spend 13 hours in unseaworthy boats in freezing waters.”
A young Sudanese man was found dead and washed up on a beach at Sangatte, France, last August.
And last October four asylum seekers, including two children aged eight and five, drowned when their boat capsized off Dunkirk.
Earlier this week the High Court ruled the Home Secretary acted unlawfully in housing asylum seekers at the “squalid” former military camp Napier Barracks in Folkestone – which have fallen into disrepair since soldiers lived there.
Meanwhile, the Home Office is investigating an incident in which migrants attempting to cross the English Channel were reportedly picked up in French waters by the UK Border Force and taken to Dover.
In terms of recent crossings, the Home Office confirmed French authorities dealt with eight incidents involving 130 people on Friday, with the UK dealing with four boats involving 83 people.
This follows 201 people being stopped by Border Force officers in eight incidents on Thursday.
And the French authorities intercepted nine crossings on Wednesday and Thursday preventing 171 people from reaching the UK.
This makes a total of 585 attempting to make the crossing in just three days.
The number of people crossing the 21-mile stretch of water has almost doubled so far in 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, with more than 3,100 having reached the English coast by the end of May.
Anti-immigration demonstrations were held in Dover last weekend with protesters blocking access to key trade terminals and four arrested.
Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “This Government’s approach to tackling Channel crossings isn’t working and is destined to fail.
“The reality is that when fleeing war, terror and persecution, ordinary people are forced to take extraordinary steps to seek safety in another country.
“Instead of relying solely on an enforcement approach to stop the crossings, this Government needs to expand safe routes so that people don’t have to risk their lives taking dangerous journeys at the mercy of criminals and people smugglers.
“Creating safe and regular routes to the UK – through an expanded resettlement programme, humanitarian visas and reforming the restrictive family reunion rules – is the way to effectively address the issue.”
Read more: All the latest news from Dover