Facebook Report Sparks Danish Crackdown on Underage Sex Post

(Bloomberg) -- Danish police have charged 1,004 young people with distributing sexually explicit material of two 15-year-olds following a tip-off from Facebook Inc.

The activity may constitute distribution of child pornography, the Danish National Police said on Monday. The case is “very large and complex,” Police Inspector Lau Thygesen said. “We’ve taken the matter very seriously as it has big consequences for those involved.”

The case --- the biggest of its kind in Denmark -- follows calls for greater efforts to clamp down on revenge porn and distribution of private material after young women last year detailed in local newspapers how their lives had been destroyed by the publication of photos and video intended only for their partners. The crackdown also comes amid a shift in tolerance toward such acts as the #MeToo movement gains traction.

“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, said by phone. “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 eyeopener for young people, that they should be careful in the digital world about what you should do.”

Danish police said they began their investigation after Facebook notified U.S. authorities of two explicit video clips and a photograph of the couple on its chat platform Messenger last year. U.S. authorities in turn notified European police. While most of those charged distributed the material a couple of times, others distributed it several hundred times, Danish police said.

Those facing charges range in age from 15 years to people in their 20s, Kjaerside said. About 800 are male. If convicted, they face possible prison sentences and will be shut out of some professions such as childcare, Kjaerside said. They may also face immigration restrictions to the U.S.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.