Danish police have charged more than 1,000 young people for distributing sexually explicit images and videos after being tipped off by Facebook.
The material that was shared, mostly by young people across the country, consists of sexual content with people who were 15 years old at the time. According to authorities, this could be in violation of section 235 of the country’s criminal code—distribution of child pornography.
“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,” said police inspector Lau Thygesen, of North Zealand Police, in a statement.
The case, reportedly the biggest of its kind in Denmark, began when Facebook received reports that two video sequences and a sexually explicit image with people under the age of 18 was shared on its chat platform, Messenger. The tech firm notified U.S. authorities, who in turn told European police.
Most of those charged shared the video a few times, but there are also some who have done it hundreds of times. The people facing charges range in age from 15 to adults in their twenties, according to police, and about 800 of them are male.
The incident comes as Facebook has said it will work harder to combat “revenge porn” and amid a nationwide push against all forms of sexual misconduct that’s been prompted in part by the growing #MeToo movement.
If convicted, they face possible prison sentences and would be shut out of certain professional, like teaching, reports Bloomberg.
“We want to give out a warning to young people: think about what you’re doing,” Flemming Kjaerside, a police superintendent for Denmark’s National Crime Center, told Bloomberg. “Don’t ever share sex videos. It can have consequences for the victims and also for those distributing. We really hope that it is an eye opener for young people, that they should be careful in the digital world about what you should do.”
The case is being chiefly led by the North Sea Police, which has worked closely with the Copenhagen Police, the Copenhagen West Bank Police and the country’s National Cyber Crime Center.