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Facebook Child Pornography: Video Shared 20,000 Times

By Dmitry Sheynin , Mar 23, 2013 07:48 PM EDT
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A video that shows a man sexually abusing an infant girl went viral on Facebook Thursday, garnering tens of thousands of likes and shares in less than seven hours.

Facebook eventually removed the video, but not until it had already appeared on many people's newsfeeds. By that point, the video had already spread to other networks as well, with screenshots going out over Twitter.

"We have zero tolerance for child pornography being uploaded onto Facebook and are extremely aggressive in preventing and removing child exploitive content. We are pleased that this material was reported to us quickly enabling its swift removal." 

Facebook said it sent out a warning to every user who shared the content, warning them that doing so violated both state and federal laws, whether the user's intent was to warn others of the content or to spread it for illicit reasons.

The video was only circulating on Facebook for a couple hours before being removed, but authorities said it happened during a period in the day when web traffic tends to be heavy in the U.S.

"Nothing is more important to Facebook than the safety of the people that use our site and this material has absolutely no place on Facebook," the company said in a statement. "We have zero tolerance for child pornography being uploaded onto Facebook and we are extremely aggressive in preventing and removing child exploitive content."

The damage could have been far worse. Facebook utilizes Microsoft's PhotoDNA, which identifies inappropriate content and flags it for removal.  Microsoft first developed PhotoDNA for the U.S. Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It works by being "taught" what an inappropriate image looks like, and then it searches for other images with visual similarities.

It's also worth noting the video is not new. The FBI believes it to be at least seven years old and said it's been spreading across the interwebs for years. The man in the video is known to the bureau as "John Doe 8." He has a dark mark on his right forearm and appears to be wearing a gold wedding band on his left hand. The FBI has been seeking to apprehend him since May 2005.

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