CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - When a disturbing video of an adult man engaging in sex acts with a young girl started circulating on Facebook last week, many users reported the graphic footage to their local law enforcement agencies.
But others shared the video on Facebook, and even encouraged their friends to do the same, in hopes of identifying the abuse suspect.
Authorities strongly warn against that.
Sharing the image could be illegal and lead to criminal charges – no matter the person's intentions.
Germaine Moore, 44, has been charged in connection with the video. He faces multiple felony charges, including sexual assault of a child and distribution of video depicting the assault.
Authorities say the victim has been located and is safe.
My Facebook fan page inbox was flooded with videos sent by concerned users over the weekend. We reached out to the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force for guidance on the issue. ICAC told us they were already aware of the issue and said anyone who receives the video should not re-post or share the video. The Task Force advises users should immediately report the video to Facebook and National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Not only could the content be a phishing scam, it could also put users at risk for prosecution, according to Tech Expert Dave Hatter.
"I just can't encourage people strongly enough, have a high degree of skepticism," Hatter said. "Understand that there are lots of bad people who are constantly innovating new ways to attack you, steal your information, hoist this kind of sick crap like child porn on you."
In addition to reporting abusive content to law enforcement, Facebook suggests the following:
Notify the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children using the CyberTipline: Visit https://report.cybertip.org or call 1-800-843-5678.
Don't 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.