WTVM Editorial 4/2/17: Social media scandal

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - First, it was a Facebook page called Marines United that shared sexually explicit photos of female marines, soldiers, and sailors.

Now another social media scandal of the same kind is being investigated by Columbus police.

News Leader 9 was the first to report that highly inappropriate images of local students, most of them minors – under age 18 - perhaps as young as middle schoolers, have been shared on social media. Police confirmed to us the images are indeed of local students.

One mother, who asked us to conceal her identity, says she learned about a disturbing Instagram page, found it, and saw pictures of local students.

Separately, a principal at a Muscogee County school also alerted police when the principal says a child claimed to have seen a sibling online, naked.

This is a deeply troubling story we will continue to investigate. We commend Columbus police for taking these reports seriously.

Any sexually explicit posts on social media are destructive to the people pictured and destructive to our civilized culture.

Parents simply must step up and actively monitor their children's use of social media. Unlike the Marines United Facebook scandal, these local posts involve children - not adults - possessing and sharing child pornography is a major and serious crime that must be stopped.

Even when children share pornography depicting other children, they can be charged and face consequences that will destroy their school or career aspirations forever.

It's also time we all hold social networks accountable when their users post something illegal.

We hear constantly about how Facebook and other social networks use fancy, automated algorithms to track news stories or measure advertising impressions.

If they can do that, then surely they have the means to police their own sites and make sure nothing like those sickening posts ever see the light of day.

General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to hsteuart@wtvm.com or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee

1909 Wynnton Road

Columbus, GA 31906

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