Federal authorities are warning Facebook users not to click or share obscene content in the wake of a video circulating on social media.
Messages that apparently contain a pornographic video of an unidentified child have been spreading through Facebook’s Messenger feed, and have been reported nationwide.
Facebook urges users to never, under any circumstances, share files depicting the sexual exploitation of a child: “The sharing of child exploitative images — regardless of intention — is harmful and illegal.”
It is a federal offense to send or possess child pornography, as well as a crime in Florida. The Jacksonville division of the FBI issued an advisory Saturday warning against downloading or sharing messages containing such files because that could be considered distribution.
According to the FBI, there are several ways you can minimize the risks associated with using social networking sites and applications:
▪ 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.
The FBI encourages parents to educate young people on the essentials of online security in an effort to help protect them from child predators and other dangers on the Internet. Please visit the FBI’s Safe Online Surfing website for additional information. DO NOT share, download or comment on the content: It can be criminal to share, or send messages with, photos and videos of children being sexually abused and exploited. You won’t be asked to provide a copy of the content in any report to Facebook.
If you wish more information on what you can do to keep your child or yourself safe feel free to contact our Crime Watch office and we will be happy to send you brochures which we have in Spanish and English.
Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 305-470-1670.