HOUSTON – Attorney General Jim Hood has issued a warning to parents and teens about an alarming trend of improper and illegal internet posts, particularly on the popular social networking site Instagram.
“Our cyber crime unit has received numerous complaints of false Instagram accounts being created specifically to post inappropriate pictures of local young ladies with the purpose of making derogatory comments about them,” said Attorney General Hood. “The message for anyone doing this is that are penalties for posting sexually explicit photos of minors and for bullying or harassing behavior”.
Hood warned participation in such activity could be illegal. Some potential charges a person could face by posting sexually explicit photos of minors or threatening language could include child exploitation, distribution/possession of child pornography, sexting and cyber bullying. Some examples of cyberbullying include setting up a profile pretending to be someone else, hacking into someone’s social networking profile, posting photos of someone online without his or her permission, harassing someone through electronic means, electronically sending embarrassing photos or messages with people other than the intended recipient and writing harmful information or lies on a website.
Attorney General Hood encourages parents and teens to use this warning as a means to get a conversation started on the topic and suggests these tips to help guide the conversation:
• Sexting is wrong and there are legal consequences to doing it.
• No matter how great peer pressure may be, the humiliation of an illicit photo getting out is much worse. Once a photo is posted online, it stays online.
• If you are posting improper and illegal photos, you should immediately STOP.
• Postings that may have occurred during school hours on school campus should be reported to school counselors to be dealt with under the school’s anti-bullying policy.
• Under Mississippi’s law, bullying occurs when a victim reasonably perceives that he or she has been threatened or harassed. It does not matter whether the bully intended to threaten or harass the victim.
• Save photos or postings to aid authorities in stopping the crimes.
• Report any crimes you are made aware of. Abuses or threats should be made to local officials, the Attorney General’s Office and/or your Internet Service Provider.
Such issues must be reported to school officials if they occur on educational property – including school buses — or at a school function.
The Attorney General cautions that Instagram and Facebook accounts are often sync’d together so postings on one will often appear on the other.
More helpful information can be found at www.agjimhood.com and www.fearstopshere.com, both sites operated by the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office.