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Facebook Child Porn Video Not New, Officials Say

While surrounding towns cite Farmington as the source of the social media outbreak, police have no confirmed cases.

It started with an email from Superintendent Kathleen Greider, proactively alerting parents that a potential threat lurked on their children’s Facebook pages. Greider, who had been notified by the Farmington police, warned parents that a video posing as a message from a friend had been discovered by a Farmington student and that the video was heinous, showing child pornography.

That was two Saturdays ago.

By last Monday, many of the surrounding towns’ superintendents had followed suit by sending out their own warning letters to parents: Avon, Canton, Simsbury, New Britain and more – all pointing to the Farmington cases.

“The Farmington Police Department has learned that a Facebook virus in the form of a disturbing pornographic video involving a young child has been received by some FHS students on their personal Facebook accounts. Although your child may not attend FHS, other students or siblings in the area may have Facebook accounts that could be affected and we wanted to alert you of this situation immediately,” Avon Superintendent Gary Mala wrote in a letter to parents and the community on March 25.

And the video was seen around the world, popping up on Facebook last week and spurring news reports and outrage globally.

But the video is not new. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the video first became known to law enforcement officials in May 2005. The video shows an older man sexually abusing a young girl. The man has been listed as most wanted and called John Doe #8 by the FBI, which has been asking the public for help identifying the man by pictures and a mark on his right forearm. See the FBI photos here.

But while the video poses a threat to students across the Farmington Valley because, if clicked on, it shares itself with everyone in a user’s friends network, there is no evidence the video has infiltrated any students’ pages.

According to Farmington Police Lt. Marshall Porter, the department got involved because a family reported an FHS student had seen something concerning on Facebook, though not necessarily something that had been shared with him.

The video the student reported was tied to a Hartford student, prompting Farmington police to reach out to the Hartford Police Department. Hartford was already investigating the issue and had been in touch with the FBI, Porter said.

“We haven’t gotten any other complaints,” Porter said. But the potential still exists. “This has the ability to rapidly move through the Facebook community.”

Authorities have estimated the video was seen by 20,000 people last week.

“This is a global issue. We’re getting inquiries from this all over the world,” Michelle Collins with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children told multiple news outlets.

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