Teen Arrested Following Facebook Live Stream Of Sexual Assault

Social media search warrants were reportedly used to identify the perpetrators

Photo Illustration: Diana Quach
Apr 03, 2017 at 9:29 AM ET

Chicago police have arrested one the several perpetrators involved in the live streamed sexual assault of a kidnapped 15-year-old girl that occurred last month.

The assault, which multiple news outlets have referred to as a “gang rape,” was broadcast to Facebook Live in March. It involved multiple perpetrators, whom police say are also being investigated. Warrants for more arrests of at least one other minor and an adult have also been issued. Because the first perpetrator to be arrested is 14 years old, police have not released his name.

Brendan Deenihan, a detective with the Chicago Police Department said that the police have been working with Facebook and were able to identify two of the several offenders after executing “social media search warrants” in a press conference.

Deenihan also noted that the victim has been facing social media bullying since the assault occurred.

While almost 40 people viewed the live video stream, no one reported it to Facebook or the police at the time. The mother of the victim, who had been missing, brought screengrabs of the livestream to the police after they had been sent to her by the victim’s uncle.

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As the investigation commenced last month, a Facebook spokesperson told reporters, “Crimes like this are hideous and we do not allow that kind of content on Facebook. We take our responsibility to keep people safe on Facebook very seriously and will remove videos that depict sexual assault and are shared to glorify violence.”

Sadly, it was not the first time a sexual assault was broadcast on Facebook’s livestreaming platform, which first debuted in 2015. In January, a Swedish woman was gang raped in a Facebook Live video posted within a private group on the social networking site. Police commenced an investigation after one woman who saw the video reported it to the police. At least 60 people had witnessed the video as it was played in real time. Following arrests made earlier this year, Swedish prosecutors revealed they have obtained a copy of the footage on Friday after requesting it from the U.S. Justice Department.

News of other graphic and disturbing videos uploaded to Facebook Live has prompted the social networking site to explore more comprehensive reporting options. The site will be exploring additional reporting and outreach options for videos featuring users at risk of self-harm or suicide, specifically.

“There have been terribly tragic events…that perhaps could have been prevented if someone had realized what was happening and reported them sooner,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a blog post predating these announced updates.