Indicted Child Porn Distributor Used Facebook

Six men indicted for attempting to view or distribute child pornography did some of their dirty work on Facebook.

Six men indicted for distributing or attempting to view child pornography apparently did some of the dirty work on Facebook.

The primary defendant, James Paul Byrd, posted as a woman on the site and created two groups for sharing pictures of prepubescent females. Five co-defendants also posed as women and joined the groups, which circulated a total of nine images.

The criminal activity lasted from January through early April of this year. Some of the details in this story, such as when Byrd was arrested and indicted, and the pending trial date, vary among the media outlets that have reported on the developments. So let’s focus on the bigger picture.

Anyway, Byrd was charged with two counts of distributing child pornography earlier this month, and the court documents were unsealed this week. He remains in North Carolina’s Gaston County Jail without bond, pending a jury trial.

We haven’t been able to find out whether any of the five co-defendants — Michael Engelking, David Large, Brian Slott, Daniel Slott and Henry Wright — are in custody. We can only hope they are, or at the very least that they can’t get onto Facebook.

These six defendants’ bogus profiles went unchecked for several months in a row. Whatever loophole they’d gotten through has doubtlessly closed up since then, as eight months is like an eternity compared to the pace at which Facebook develops upgrades and new features.

So the biggest collateral damage for Facebook from this affair is bad press. The timing of this story during the holidays, when news cycles run slowly and staffing gets thin, could either work for or against the social network.

What do you think about safety issues that Facebook faces in the aftermath of this type of case? How can the social network better protect users and itself from further abuses of laws governing child pornography distribution?