Several states have informed US federal authorities that a video showing an adult male sexually abusing a young child was being shared through Facebook's Messenger feed.
Many users started sharing the video and encouraging others to do so with the intention to help identify people involved in exploiting the child. But law enforcement agencies across the country have issued warnings reminding vigilant Facebook users that no matter what the reasons are, those sharing child pornography could face criminal charges. And viewing is also a crime.
"PLEASE DO NOT SHARE those images or video," the Polk County Sheriff's Office said in a message posted to their Facebook page Sunday. "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."
"If a pornographic image shows up on your Facebook page, contact Facebook immediately and delete the image from your account. Sharing the image is considered distribution and you could be criminally charged for doing so," the post said. "We understand that sharing information sometimes brings a criminal to justice, but sharing amongst Facebook friends is not the way to do it."
"If you saved it, if you posted it to your page, if you sent it to someone else… you're disseminating child porn, and that's a felony," Tim Gann, an attorney in Alabama, told WHNT.
A spokesman for Central Alabama CrimeStoppers told media that inappropriate content should be immediately reported to the social media platform. People can call their local law enforcement office to notify about the situation but not forward the content to the department's Facebook page.
The suspect in the viral child porn video case has been arrested in Alabama. All the more reason for you to NOT SHARE THE VIDEO if you receive it.https://t.co/stXlQ07BCa— FDLE (@fdlepio) 6 февраля 2018 г.
Suspicious content can also be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.