The FBI and local law enforcement agencies nationwide issued warnings about sharing a child pornography video on Facebook or other social media platforms, saying it could lead to criminal prosecution.
The viral video shows a young girl being forced to perform a sex act with an adult man, The Birmingham News reported.
The man in the video, 44-year-old Germaine Moore, turned himself in to authorities in Millbrook, Alabama, on Monday after a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Moore faces 11 counts related to criminal sexual conduct involving a person under the age of 13.
Prior to the suspect’s arrest, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Florida warned citizens not to share the video, even if their intent was to help identify the man in it.
“PLEASE DO NOT SHARE those images or video,” the sheriff’s office said in a message posted to their Facebook page Sunday, according to WNYW. “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.”
After Moore was arrested, the office sent out an update on Monday: “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.”
Lt. Brooke Walker, with the task force, said identifying and apprehending Moore was a major win in their fight against child pornography.
“We’re definitely glad he’s in custody,” Walker told The Birmingham News Tuesday. “I’ve been doing this for 12 years, and he’s the top.”
Authorities also arrested Moore’s fiancee, Tonya Hardy, after she failed to cooperate with investigators.
“Basically she chose him over her children,” Walker said.
Prior to Moore’s arrest, Facebook also warned users not to share the video.
“We do not allow the sharing of child exploitative images on Facebook or Messenger — even to express outrage. Regardless of intention, sharing such imagery is harmful and illegal,” said the company’s spokesperson.
“When we become aware of such images, we remove them and notify the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. We urge people never to share such content and to report it to local authorities immediately.”
The FBI issued the following tips in relation to child pornography:
- 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 records 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.
In addition to facing charges in Alabama, Moore is also wanted by Michigan authorities for multiple counts of criminal sexual misconduct.
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