UPDATED X4: #AmberCole & Child Pornography on Twitter

Updates below.

At some point in the early morning hours of October 17, 2011 “Shes 14” and “Sketchers” (WARNING: Highly Offensive) began to trend on twitter and I explored it as I do many trends. Shortly I found out that the hullabaloo was over a young 14 year old African-American girl from Memphis, TN Baltimore, MD who had been videotaped performing oral sex on a male at what looked like a school. Apparently whoever posted the video posted the girl’s name as well–Amber Cole. I found the #AmberCole hashtag (WARNING: Highly Offensive) and began to follow it. It became evident rather quickly that this video was real and was being passed around on twitter. Amber Cole may have even created her own account in response to the video being posted. Her account is @DaRealAmberCole.

If this isn’t a very elaborate hoax (and I don’t believe it is, judging by her twitter account), this will be all over the news later today or tomorrow.

I was certainly offended by the crass level of humor being tweeted about this poor girl, but it is Twitter after all, and that’s par for the course. It’s still a free country and people can talk. What they can’t do is distribute child pornography, which is what people were doing every single time they posted the link to the video (again, assuming it really is a 14 year old girl). They were so blase about it. Here’s a 14 year old giving head! As if it were perfectly normal and it hadn’t occurred to them that it might be illegal, let alone immoral. Even if the girl isn’t 14, they THOUGHT they were passing around a video of a 14 year old girl performing a sex act. That’s…well, I don’t know that there’s a word for that kind of nonchalant arrogance and disregard for the personhood of a child.

Anyway, I got pretty fired up. Regular readers know how much women’s issues mean to me, and sexual exploitation of children is certainly part of that. But the #AmberCole hashtag was streaming so fast and I had no hope of having enough followers online at the time (or offline, ftr; I don’t have a great deal of them hint, hint) to assist me in tweeting against the tide, or retweeting my pleas for people to be aware that it was illegal and to stop. A lot of people were expressing concern, especially about cyberbullying and suicide, but no one was doing anything to protect the girl from more people seeing this video. So I decided to take action. Here’s what I did.

I scanned the #AmberCole hashtag for two hours just watching for people posting the video. Then I copied and  pasted their twitter handles into a word document so I could keep track. I would then reply to their tweet with the following message:

You are in violation of child pornography laws by promoting #AmberCole video. I’m #takingnames to report. #FBI

I thought it was a pretty futile effort at first, but at least I figured law enforcement could contact them and put fear into them later (I hoped they would take some action anyway). And there would be a steady stream of my tweets in the stream of #AmberCole tweets coming down the line to remind people, get them to think. About 40, in fact, after all was said and done. And I’d collected some 47 names. I immediately went to report both the link and the tweeters at NCMEC’s Cyber Tipline. I probably should have reported the link first, before my twitter campaign, but I didn’t think of it. After I filed my report, I went back for screengrabs. And that’s when things got really interesting.

Of the 47 people I had personally seen tweeting the link to the video, only 16 still had it up. 16! That’s 31 eliminations, 31 less chances for this to be out there forever, ruining this girl’s life. That’s the work  of one person making a small difference. And I do feel really good about it. I wish more people had tried.

In the end, this young girl’s life will be forever changed by this experience. Already her (thankfully common) name is being used as a euphemism, and of course there are the kids she will have to continue to grow up with, and the many boys and men who will use this to prey on her further. I took the time to check out her twitter stream and some of the stuff she had posted there. She appears to live with her grandmother and they live in poverty, judging by the background in her pics. I have little hope she and her family can just pack up and escape the immediate repercussion of all this. Anyway, I’ll leave you with a screenshot of my final tweet of the night.


Update: Since posting this I have found the e-mail address to report child pornography on Twitter. It’s cp@twitter.com if you want to e-mail them, because the video is still being passed around. If you see someone posting the link, you should definitely e-mail the username to cp@twitter.com. Try for a screengrab if you can. I have also found at least two tumblr accounts (no links for obvious reasons) that have posted the video and have reported them to enquiries@tumblr.com because that’s the only e-mail contact I could find at Tumblr. If someone has better contact info, post it in comments. In the meantime, if you have the time, you might e-mail them as well.

Update2: I’ve decided I’m not stopping until this video is off Twitter. I’ve also contacted Sketchers to make sure they know that their brand is being associated with child porn. I don’t know if my one message will get through, though, so you might consider contacting them yourself. Here’s the link. I know you’re reading. I can see the blog stats shoot through the roof. Will you stand idly by while this happens? While more and more people victimize this young lady?

Update 3: Found another copy of the video on a photobucket account and have report it here. I asked for a comment this time.

I could really use some help here, folks. I’m tracking #AmberCole and #Sketchers for people posting the video and then replying to them with this message:

Please remove the #AmberCole child porn video from your timeline or I will have to report you. #Sketchers Shes 14

But so far this is a one-woman crusade to stop the distribution of a child porn video that trending worldwide on twitter and virally finding its way onto myriad other sites, I can’t catch it all. Does anyone care about child pornography anymore? Or is it the girl’s race or economic status that is stopping you from acting? Gave head when you were 14? Got head? Well, you certainly didn’t sign on for someone to videotape it and post it to the internet with your name, for goodness sakes!

If you want to help, feel free to adopt my stategy of politely asking the user to take it down. This will leave a trail of names on your account that Twitter can then trace to remove. Follow up with a report to cp@twitter.com about what you are doing so they will know where to look.

Update 4: I just got of the phone with Special Agent Matthew Smith of the FBI’s Innocent Images department, and he is on the case. He’s calling Memphis to make sure authorities make contact with the girl, and going after the posting of the videos once they have confirmation. At this point I have sent communications to the hosters of every copy of the video I could find, as well as other businesses associated with the video. I have contacted Twitter twice. Not a single entity has returned my communications. I guess I’ll give them the day, but I’m not happy about this.


58 comments on “UPDATED X4: #AmberCole & Child Pornography on Twitter

  1. Found this link to report child porn on twitter and reported it the e-mail address they provided, too. https://support.twitter.com/articles/37370

  2. votermom says:

    How horrible.

  3. It’s on Twitvid now, and I contacted them too. It’s going viral quite fast and people are just so casual about it. I haven’t slept yet and I need to, but I’m one of the few doing anything about it.

  4. On the phone right now with the FBI.

  5. PLEASE! Contact me immediately via e-mail- I have a nephew who works cyber crime for a major City. He may be able to get this pulled pronto! I am not sure how to link these things.

  6. Thank you so much ProudMilitaryMom! I am still on the phone with the FBI.

  7. votermom says:

    PMM & AnnabelleP – you are my Sheroes!!!

  8. Twitter sent me back an auto response. So far I am not impressed. FCS! Blogspot shut down a bunch of Hillary blogs with no warnign because some asshats hit the flag button! Is there no “Flag as Inappropriate” button anywhere in twitter?

    • No, there isn’t, which is frustrating as hell. You can only e-mail and wait. The guy at the Federal office of the FBI suggested it would just take one call from them to shut it down. The guy I reported my info to was local to my city, but he has connections in Memphis.

  9. Wonderful! /sarcasm. Amber has now said she has taken mentioned taking some pills. WTF is wrong with people! I’ve reached out and told her to call the FBI.


  10. Let’s blow up the @support timeline with this!

  11. I just tweeted this
    @Support child pornb and cyberbullying at Shes 14 + Sketchers + Amber Cole hashtags! PLEASE shut down these timelines! Report to FBI

    Please retweet- if we blow up their support timeline maybe they will MOVE on it!

  12. cejay says:

    lmao who hasnt seen it already smh

  13. soupcity says:

    Emailed complaint to Twitter, this poor kid. These are some sick bastards.

  14. tee says:

    It’s now on facebook. There’s a group on facebook and the video is on several pages. Please report to facebook, as I’ve done.

  15. Lola- this facebook page has a damn still photo from the video! I reported it to Facebook and everybody with a facebook account needs to do the same

  16. YES! I had to send Facebook messages to the executives of Photobucket, but they finally removed the content! Here’s the e-mail:

    The content reported has been removed.

    You may need to clear your browser’s cache or temporary internet files and then refresh the page where you had viewed the image(s) to avoid seeing an older cached version of the image from before it was removed by us.

    Thank you,

    Photobucket Support

  17. lola@hotmail.com says:

    I respect what you are doing 100% but half way through reading all your post I’m sitting here thinking like Shit! Shut the fuck up (no offense) … Its one thing to spread the word and get the video off the web so these sick bastards stop spreading it but you dont have to be all like “I reported them…and then I did this…and then I did that… and then I talked to the FBI… and then I… btw I need more followers (self publicity)…and then I contacted twitter…and then facebook…blah blah blah…look at me I’m such an amazing person” … You could easily spread the information of who to report the video and links to.

    • Do you not understand how citizen journalism works? The report is the point. And this is a case study, so the details are necessary so this kind of campaign can be replicated. I appreciate that you support the effort, but seriously? Do you have to be so negative in general?

  18. I’m flagging objectionable comments on her Facebook support page. I really wish the admin would remove the negative comments.

    • Anna Belle says:

      Lacy, first, good to see you here! Second, I think she herself is running that page and I don’t think she knows how to fill out the info section or moderate it. I might message her tomorrow and offer my services. Depends on the workload because this ain’t over by a longshot. This is I would guess the biggest distribution of child porn in American history, maybe world history since there have been laws about it and it still ongoing. 50,000 views and climbing according to one source. The way I see it, we have four more days to shut it down. We’re way less likely to see FBI action or business response on a weekend, I think. I’m in it for the long haul.

  19. Stop the madness says:

    I think this might be the source–yahoo answers. Ive reported some of the users there who were giving out the links to the video. If you type this in google “site:answers.yahoo.com who is amber cole” it will take you to yahoo answers where you can also report the posters. The posters’ comment will be removed but only if enough people report it. This is such a shame, instead of stopping the spread, others are actually propagating this nonsense. She made a mistake yes, but there is no need for others to exacerbate the situation/do more damage by referring links. Whoever is responsible for the filming/distribution of this recording should answer to the law for what they have started. My fellow young people need to wake up–this is sickening. I applaud what this site/its maker are doing to help stop this.

  20. Amy says:

    Hey just wanted to share a few links with you that i have noticed that have not only posted the videos but also mention in their blogs that they have received the video as well from and unknown source!…. Below are the links/websites.

    and a tumblr account: username is: liberated-youth (they have the actual video posted!)

  21. flygirl says:

    The video(2) is posted on http://answers.yahoo.com..

  22. Nice Lady says:

    I will help you comb through Twitter this evening. If we would all just consider her to be “our” child. Many reactions would have been different.

  23. ProudMommi says:

    I’m reporting people on Facebook.

  24. jacquilla says:

    Leave her alone ok so what if she made a mistake we all makes mistakes and we will grow to learn from our mistakes.

  25. jacquilla says:

    i jus found a video that involves amber!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVUg5T4k8t0&feature=player_embedded and this video has boys that are making fun of amber.
    Amber Cole (Official Video)
    ‎#AuthenticEnt http://www.facebook.com/teamauthentic

  26. You Tube still has plenty of still shots up – this breaks my heart. You have to be of age to view but this is something that no one needs to see. I am very angry that 5 days into this – there is not a mainstream media discussion.

    I am not advocating that they publish her name – but that they at least have a dialogue. But her race is an issue. Thank you for caring enough about our girls to spark a one woman revolution. Now we in the black community need to turn off the junk and start helping our young girls in a serious way.

    Thank you again and keep up the good work.

    • Anna Belle says:

      BGW: Thanks for coming by. I don’t know what to do about the still shots on youtube. Most of the videos that I’ve seen lately don’t contain actual footage of the event, just the still shot when before the video is displayed. We are reporting them, but I don’t know that youtube will yank them if they don’t contain video footage when played. I don’t know. We’re reporting them anyway.

      At this point, I do think the black community will have to take over. I have two links left that have the video footage (as far as we can find at #AmbersArmy), but they are blogs/websites owned by black individuals, and they refuse to take it down. We are filing multiple reports with the FBI and notifying their domain registrations so the domains can protect themselves from criminal prosecution by ending their business relationship (which will also kill the links). In the meantime, I won’t be able to convince them that they should take it down because they a) feel entitled to view and distribute child porn (sick in an of itself) and b) are hostile to me because I am white. But maybe the communications of a few dozen black women and men could persuade them?

      • Nice Lady says:

        Please give me the names of the blogs you are referring to and I will see if I or others know the blogger.

        • Lola-at-Large says:

          We actually got the two blogs addressed. One removed the content, the other got shut down.

          However, this new one has popped up. I am posting this link interrupted so no one can click it from here. You can see if by copying, pasting, and then removing the space after the http://and before the .com, then hitting enter.

          http:// thegamutt.blogspot. com/2011/10/ambercole-at-it-again-pressing-charges.html?spref=tw

          Thank you for your help.

        • Nice Lady says:

          Lola-at-Large, I sent an email request asking for the content to be removed. Fingers crossed.

        • Nice Lady says:

          Update re: The Gamutt. The blogger replied back that my request was “noted”. At the time of this update, the content is still there.

  27. Nice Lady says:

    F/U to my earlier comment: over two days I have searched for working links to the video. I only found one link that led to the actual video and I reported it to cp@twitter.com. Other links I saw lead (thankfully) to dead ends, i.e. “this content cannot be found”. However, the amount of collateral damage out on the general web is staggering. Jokes, songs, derogatory comments are in abundance. Most of what I saw appears to be from other minors, but some adults too, have taken the low road.

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      Thank you for your efforts! Yes, we have killed a tremendous amount of links. It’s getting harder and harder to find, except people keep uploading it to youtube. Some users post it multiple times. I don’t understand why their accounts aren’t suspended.

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      I could not get Twitter to do anything using the cp e-mail. They insisted that they were not repsonisble for third party links and refused to suspend accounts. They are useless, but we’re going after them and Facebook next. I hope her dad, who has contacted the press, is talking to a lawyer. The family needs to sue.

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