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Update: NC probes nude student photos on social media accounts

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GREENVILLE, N.C. - The SBI expands its investigation into nude photos of local high school students popping up on social media.
It's now digging into the issue across several counties.

The agency is now looking into cases in Pitt, Craven and Edgecombe counties, as well as 5 others in the state.
The expanded search happened as a result of new cases popping up in other counties.
Search warrants show investigators subpoenaed Facebook, which owns Instagram.
They're working now to learn more about who runs the accounts responsible for the activity.

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Taking a stand against a degrading practice.  Students in the east are appearing in explicitly sexual social media sites against not only their will, but their knowledge.

9 On Your Side spoke with area students who want to put a stop to a frightening social media trend.

Inscribed on a rock sitting at the entrance to Farmville Central High School is the phrase, ‘Nothing worth doing is easy.’

These students know it won't be easy stopping the spread of harmful social media sites, but they know the well-being of their classmates is one thing worth fighting for.

At 16-years-old, Ayana Joyner is well aware of what could come from this type of behavior online.

"Somebody could take their life over this.  You could think it's a joke one minute, but it's really not.  It's not a joke, because somebody could get hurt by this."

Seniors Isiah McCullum and Adam Greene know it too.

"It's definitely in school now,” said McCullum, Student Body President.  “People are definitely picking on people.  They're pointing, laughing, and just making a mockery of everyone that's online."

They say these degrading and sexually explicit Instagram accounts started showing up at the beginning of the spring semester.

Students they know-mostly female-posed nude in photographs- they never meant to be public.

"If they did send a pic or anything they would want it to be private as possible and they're basically being exposed to the world,” said Greene, Senior Class President.

"I wanna see the Instagram accounts taken down,” said Joyner.  “I wanna see the people who are doing this, something needs to happen to them.  Something needs to happen to them."

School resource officers say they're in the schools for situations like this.

"These guys in the schools are the front line officer,” said Sgt. Cameron Coburn, head of the School Resource Officers with the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office.

When students report the accounts to their SRO, they'll get the information to a detective ready to track down the account's creator.

Sgt. Coburn hopes what a few strong students are doing about it now will set a good example.

"To educate them to just not even give into the temptation of doing it, no matter what they're told or led to believe,” said Coburn.

While the pages are often deleted within hours or days, these students know it's enough time to do lasting damage.  "I don't know who's creating it,” said Joyner.  “It could be anybody.  Anybody.  Trust no one."

Greenville police urge parents to take these steps to protect your children:

-       Take their phones.  Go through what they're taking pictures of and what they're sharing.

-       Speak the language. Search Google and Urban Dictionary to learn the internet acronyms your kids are using.

-       Help them set Facebook privacy settings so only people they know can see their content.

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With a couple of clicks on the internet, students in schools across the east are finding pictures of their peers on popular social networking sites.
They're popping up on accounts with sexually explicit labels.

A lot of you, concerned parents and friends, contacted 9 On Your Side looking for answers as to who's behind all this.
Just over the last few days, these accounts have been popping up on Instagram. It's a popular photo and video sharing network.
These accounts are featuring pictures of female students from high schools in Craven County. Others have comments about students from Pitt County high schools and even some middle schools.
When we took your questions about these explicit and degrading sites to detectives, 9 On Your Side found they're already tracking down who's behind them.

Greenville Police Detective Glen Webb says he's been monitoring at least four different accounts, just this week. He says sexually explicit pictures of minors are posted under accounts titled with slang terms that typically pull in nude photos of children.
Webb says the department's moving forward aggressively with the cases.

"Very aggressive,” said Glen Webb, Greenville Police Detective. “Whenever we get information like this, we’re automatically filing the reports getting the search warrants ready getting the preservation letters ready for Facebook and Instagram so that the evidence can't be destroyed if they delete the account.
Sexual exploitation of a minor is a felony. And Webb says cases like this carry that kind of weight. He says no matter whether you're the one creating the account, sharing it, or even commenting on the pictures, you could be held liable.

“It's very serious,” said Webb. “And these are things that'll follow you around forever. Once those images hit the internet there pretty much forever especially if someone that's on these accounts is downloading them and putting them on what's called a bit torrent website and that puts it out to millions of people.”
At that point, it's almost impossible to scrub it from the internet.
9 On Your Side is just beginning to dig into social networking safety. If you're a concerned parent or have seen these accounts yourself, we want to hear from you.
Join the conversation now on our Facebook page.
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