At least two Instagram accounts have been reportedly linked to child pornography, according to federal investigators. 1 The District Court of Guam issued a search warrant for the two accounts, which officials say were engaging in illegal activity.
With over 200 million monthly users, Instagram is one of the most widely used social media services. The site, which is primarily used for sharing photos, also features an instant messaging service. Court documents state that the two accounts were sharing sexually explicit photos and videos. 2
One of the accounts belonged to an 11-year-old boy. The other account sent him the photos and videos, and also requested a video from the boy. Detectives say that the conversations were “very sexually explicit and included admissions of sexual encounters with minors.” 3
The investigation also revealed more sexually explicit activity from the account. In one interaction, the user sent a photo of a naked child to another user. 4 This disturbing case shows just how rampant the issue of child porn has become, and how technology is making it easier to share these illegal images.
You can protect yourself from child porn-related charges by taking a few precautionary measures. Let’s see what a few of them are…
1. Don’t Open These Images!
This seems like stating the obvious. However, it needs to be explained. With Instagram’s current design, users are able to directly send other users images, much like normal text messaging. You have a choice to open or delete the image.
When a user sends you a photo or a video, you will see a thumbnail-sized preview of it on the right hand side:5
If you see that the image you received appears to be sexually explicit or
contains illegal material, you can avoid it altogether by deleting it, without opening it. Simply swipe from right to left on it, and then press “delete.”
2. Make Your Instagram Account Private
Making your account private can protect you from receiving illegal messages completely. When your account is private, anyone who is not your “follower” needs your approval to successfully send you material. If you do not recognize the person, you can simply deny the request. Having a private account also prevents strangers from around the world from seeing your photos and videos.
3. Avoid Chatting with Minors (The James Franco Dilemma)
While signing autographs outside of a Broadway theater, James Franco was approached by a 17-year-old fan. The fan reportedly took a video of the actor and posted it to her Instagram account. Just prior to posting it, the actor allegedly asked her to “tag” him in it. 6
The teenager complied, and eventually her and the actor allegedly began exchanging text messages through Instagram. Franco asked her how old she was. However, after she revealed that she was not going to be turning eighteen for several weeks, he allegedly still volunteered to rent a hotel room with her. 7 Although he was not criminally charged, Franco faced much public scrutiny for this.
California Penal Code Section 288.4 prohibits any adult from arranging a meeting with a minor if it is motivated by sexual interest. You can avoid a situation like this by immediately asking any of your Instagram messagers his or her age. If he or she conveys that he or she is under the age of eighteen, it is in your best interest to end the communication.
4. Don’t Post Naked Pictures of Your Infant Children
While this seems like an innocent act, posting naked photos of your infant child can have repercussions. A woman in Melbourne, Australia was shocked when she discovered photos of her 18-month-old child on a site hosting sexual content. 8
The same photos she was posting on her Instagram account were circulating on several other accounts. Federal police in Australia acknowledged that this is an ongoing issue with Instagram users. 9 You may be able to avoid this problem by making your account private. Not posting such photos is the most certain safeguard.
Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you are facing child porn charges because of your activity on Instagram, you are not alone. The rapid, widespread use of the popular site has left many users confused about what is legal vs. illegal behavior. Fortunately, our knowledgeable team of attorneys at Wallin & Klarich can provide you with the best legal defense. With over 30 years of experience helping our clients accused of child porn and other sex crimes, we can help you through this difficult time.
With offices located in Orange County, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Torrance, Riverside, West Covina, Victorville, Ventura, San Diego and Sherman Oaks, one of our skilled attorneys is available to help you, no matter where you work or live.
Call us at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 to discuss your case. We will get through this together.
10. [“Instagram logo”. Via Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Instagram_logo.png#mediaviewer/File:Instagram_logo.png]↩