Over 1000 people have been charged for sharing sexually explicit content without consent on Facebook in the biggest case of its kind
According to Danish police
, two videos and a sexually explicit image involving two 15-year-olds were originally posted to Facebook Messenger, the platform’s private chat service. The video was then shared hundreds of times across the platform, and now, a total of 1,004 young people have been charged — and about 800 are male, reports Bloomberg. While the content was posted by someone within Denmark, it’s unclear if everyone accused of sharing it are from the country.
The age of consent in Denmark is 15, but Danish police said sharing the media could be considered illegal distribution of child pornography. The charged range in age from 15 years to people in their 20s.
“It’s a very big and complex matter that has taken a long time to investigate. Not least because of the large number of charged. We have taken the case very seriously as it has major implications for those involved when such material is spread. And it must be stopped,” said police inspector Lau Thygesen from North Zealand Police in a press statement.
Facebook reportedly received reports that the content had been shared and notified U.S. authorities. Then, the information was sent through the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) to Danish police, who initiated their own investigation under the name “Umbrella.”
The case comes after Denmark made a big push toward seeking harsher punishment for revenge porn. In February, the country’s government announced a series of measures
to curb an increase in the online sharing of nudes without consent — now, in Denmark you can go to prison for up to two years.
Revenge porn has also recently become a top priority for Facebook’s safety team, who have been working increasingly with local law enforcement on the issue.
After announcing a new set of reporting tools in April, Facebook rolled out a pilot program to help prevent image-based abuse and revenge porn being shared across its platforms.
Testing in Australia first, then the U.S., UK and Canada, the pilot is an extension of the company’s previously announced set of tools for users on Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram to prevent intimate images from being shared without consent.
Facebook was already testing a system that didn’t immediately block posted images. When images were flagged, they were reviewed by Facebook’s Community Operations team, then the platform used photo-matching tech to prevent additional uploads before they can be shared.
While revenge porn is slowly being more heavily criminalised across countries like Denmark, and while portals for reporting are a huge step forward, the onus should still be on perpetrators uploading this content in the first place. Just don’t, eh?