Local News

SBI now investigating Instagram photos of nude students in nine counties

Posted February 26, 2014 11:08 a.m. EST
Updated February 26, 2014 7:48 p.m. EST

— An investigation that began in Wake County of nude photos of high school students on Instagram has expanded to at six more North Carolina counties, bringing the total to at least nine, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Justice said Wednesday.

Assistant Public Information Officer Alexander Mendoza said the State Bureau of Investigation is now looking into the matter in Chatham, Johnston, Edgecombe, Craven, Randolph and Surry counties.

In addition to Wake County, investigations are also underway in Durham and Pitt counties.

Photos of nude boys and girls who authorities believe attend several local high schools began showing up on the social media site in Wake County this month, prompting a Wake Forest mother to call police after learning about it from her daughter.

The Durham County Sheriff's Office said a 17-year-old girl last week reported nude photos of her showing up on Instagram, and a 14-year-old girl told a school resource officer at her middle school that nude photos of her were being shared online.

Authorities have subpoenaed Facebook, which owns Instagram, for user information associated about several accounts, according to search warrants.

School system representatives have said they are cooperating with authorities in the investigation, and authorities are urging parents to talk to their children about the dangers of posing for or posting sexually explicit photos.

"They have to be made aware that what they do is on there forever," said Russell Gilmore, a cyber-security specialist with Raleigh-based Risk Management Associates.

"When you share a photograph through a social media website or with a friend, you don't know where that picture is going," he said. "You have no clue if it's being shared with one person or 1,000."