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Child porn went viral on Facebook, and police say its creator has been charged

A man has been charged with sexually abusing three underage girls across two states after a video of one alleged encounter spread across the world via social media.

Germain Moore, 44, of Detroit, turned himself in at a police station outside Birmingham, Alabama, early Tuesday, Feb. 6, after his mug shot and name were splashed across news sites and police bulletins as a suspect in the dissemination of the video that has spread as far as France. The video allegedly shows a child performing oral sex on Moore.

Law enforcement agencies across the country have warned people against sharing the explicit video, a problem that has emerged as social media has made spreading videos easier and faster than ever before, often without considering the impact on victims and police investigations or the legal ramifications.

The public's attempts to identify the suspect by sharing the video slow efforts to track down real perpetrators, Tony Garrett, the executive director of the nonprofit Central Alabama CrimeStoppers, told The Washington Post.

The victim also may be re-victimized as more people see the crime, Madison County Chief Trial Attorney Tim Gann told citizens.

"You're disseminating child porn and that's a felony . . . it's an awful thought that people can't understand that that's wrong," he said. "To have it blasted over social media - it shocks the conscience, for me. It really does."

Miller added that prosecutors believe Moore preyed on his nieces while their mother worked, and committed the abuse at his mother's home in Detroit and his own home in Alabama. Moore faces on 11 felony charges in both Alabama and Michigan, AL.com reported, with potentially more forthcoming. His fiance Tonya Hardy was arrested and will be charged with hindering prosecution, local media reported.

In recent days, authorities have attempted to stop people from spreading the video. Police in Colorado Springs updated followers Thursday on Facebook, saying the video posted on Jan. 31 was spreading across "a multitude" of social media platforms. The girl in the video was identified and is now safe, the department said.

The amplification of the video has already led to one arrest, with more possibly coming. Montgomery Police arrested Jerrell Washington, 42, with one count each of possession and dissemination of child pornography, the department said Monday, and he is being held under $100,000 bond.

"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," Facebook said in response to the video, according to southern Louisiana station KLFY.

Facebook did not return a request for comment from The Post. The company's site says it reports verified child sex abuse images to the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which works with law enforcement to find offenders, and proactively detects and blocks content from being uploaded using software called PhotoDNA.

Facebook also says it disables accounts that share child pornography; it is unclear how the video allegedly created and uploaded by Moore proliferated so widely.

  

Story by Alex Horton. Horton is a general assignment reporter and former Army infantryman.

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