Police are investigating an Instagram account that links to a third party website requiring teens post nude or provocative photos of themselves in order to gain access.
There aren’t believed to be any adults involved at this time, but police are investigating further. The alleged crimes are state and federal felonies that could potentially lead to the teens registering as a sex offender for the rest of their lives.
The investigation started when a mother found explicit photos on her 15 year old child’s Instagram account. The investigation led to the two accounts that link to the third party website, investigators say thousands of illicit photos and videos have been found.
Authorities say they are trying to protect teens from themselves and that they don’t anticipate bringing charges to the hundreds of teens allegedly involved, but they have seized over 26 cellphones to date. Under the current law, the teens could technically be charged with manufacturing child pornography and once they send it to someone, distribution of child pornography.
This isn’t the first time teens have inadvertently caused themselves to become child pornographers by photographing themselves and putting it on the internet. This particular case, besides the Instagram connection, is particularly significant because of its size. The ring spanned six Virginia counties.
[Photo Credit: Brandon Christopher Warren]