The FBI and local law enforcement officials across the country are warning Facebook users not to share a disturbing video that’s been making the rounds over the past week. The video depicts an adult sexually abusing a child, and is legally considered child pornography – which is illegal both to watch and to share.
Strangely, people are sharing the video online purport to have good intentions: The video has been widely shared as part of an online crusade to hold the adult in the film accountable.
But law enforcement officials are reminding them that – no matter their intentions – this behavior is still a crime.
Facebook’s communications department has also issued a warning of its own.
“The sharing of child exploitative images – regardless of intention – is harmful and illegal,” Facebook’s media team said in a statement.
We have turned off KSAT-12’s ability to receive messages on Facebook due to the viral spread of the video and have instructed our news team to do the same with their own fan pages.
Law enforcement officials across the country are reaching out to their local media stations to get the word out.
“If you saved it, if you posted it to your page, if you sent it to someone else,” Tim Gann, Madison County Chief Trial Attorney explained told a local TV station. “you’re disseminating child porn and that’s a felony. If you are in possession of it, no matter your good intentions, that is also a felony. So, in this case, it’s very disturbing that people feel like it’s ok to post something awful happening to a child on social media.”
In New York State, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office says people have been flooding their inboxes for weeks now with a video they say is too disturbing to even describe.
“PLEASE DO NOT SHARE those images or video,” said the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said in a message posted to their Facebook page. “Images and video depicting the sexual abuse of a child are pornography. Sharing them, even if your intent is to help, is a crime and continues to victimize the child.”
As Gann explains, every time the video is shared, the child depicted in it is victimized again.
But above all, law enforcement officials have been stunned by the video’s spread.
“We can not have child pornography going viral,” said Jay Town, the US attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.
Unfortunately, it appears to be too late for that.
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