WINTER HAVEN (FOX 13) - The FBI and local enforcement agencies across the country have issued warnings about a disturbing video circulating on Facebook and other social media networks. The bottom line: sharing the video, and even viewing, is a crime.
The video, according to law enforcement officials, shows an adult male sexually abusing a young child. Facebook users have encouraged others to share the video to try to help catch the people involved in exploiting the child, but law enforcement agencies, including the Polk County Sheriff's Office, say sharing the video is actually a felony.
"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."
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. While they're encouraged many are trying to do the right thing and report the person, they've posted a PSA to their Facebook page to make sure people are aware of the right way to report child pornography and sexual abuse.
FBI and federal prosecutors are investigating the video that's currently making its rounds on Facebook. While no arrests have been made, the Polk County Sheriff's Office says the victim at least is safe.
"It is our understanding that Alabama law enforcement authorities, including their Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, have identified the suspect and victim and that the victim is safe."
Suspicious content should be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The agency has a secure cyber tip line of you can call 1-800-843-5678. It will alert the right people while ensuring a tipster stays on the right side of the law and is not unwittingly re-victimizing the child by spreading images of their abuse.
The FBI has also issued these tips:
- Never click on or open unsolicited emails or messages from unknown contacts.
- Report inappropriate activity or content to the website immediately upon receipt. Include the sender's screen name, but do not forward the content to others, including website administrators or law enforcement, as it could be considered distribution.
- Immediately delete the file and all record of the communication.
- Notify law enforcement using the Cyber Tip Line operated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in partnership with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. Reports may be made 24-hours a day, 7 days a week online at www.cybertipline.org or call 1-800-843-5678.
- Check privacy settings and account security.