Three more pages apparently related to a series of “Purge of Maine” explicit photos of Maine girls appeared late Thursday on Facebook, and a person responding to questions posted to an earlier page said all the photos were posted with the consent of the girls depicted in them.

The responder also added, “I’ll probably be in jail soon to be honest lol.”

Facebook pages earlier in the week containing nude or sexually explicit photos of young Maine girls sparked an outpouring of criticism on social media and launched investigations by several law enforcement agencies around the state. Photos on the pages created Thursday, by contrast, showed girls who were scantily clad but not naked.

Law enforcement officials said they think all five Facebook pages that had been reported by Thursday morning, starting with “The Purge of Maine” and containing variations of the name in subsequent pages, are related to each other, but they haven’t yet identified who might be responsible for the postings, which were first reported to local police on Tuesday. The pages included dozens of sexually explicit images, many of them selfies, or self-portraits, of girls, and said that many of them were from Maine.

All of those earlier pages had been taken down by Facebook as of Thursday afternoon. An icon for “Maine Purge” with a photo of a young girl and the bright green letters “Exposed” stamped across her picture led only to a link on Thursday that said, “Sorry, this page isn’t available.” The same icon next to a page called “Purge Maine” also led nowhere.

“I think someone’s getting scared, and they’re not having the ability to get out what they want to get out because that public outcry is shutting them down fast,” said David Armstrong, a detective for the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit, which is leading the investigation, reacting earlier in the day. “The public has been right on it. People are seeing it and they’re saying, ‘Call in, call in,’ and Facebook has had enough of it. They’re shutting it down. But they could still come up and do something totally different. You wouldn’t even know it’s the same people on Facebook.”


The person responding to a Morning Sentinel message sent to one of the earlier “Purge” pages claimed that the girls shown in the explicit photos on that page are seeking the attention.

“They undress themselves. They open the camera app on their phones themselves. They get the lighting juuuuust right themselves. They send the pictures and even videos all on their own,” the responder wrote, adding later, “Don’t be fooled, they ALL jumped at the chance to be put up, hoping to become the next Kim Kardashian.”

A Facebook spokesperson, responding Thursday to an emailed request for comment, sent the following statement: “Nothing is more important to Facebook than the safety of the people that use our site and this material has absolutely no place on Facebook. We maintain a robust reporting infrastructure that leverages over 1.4 billion people who use our site to keep an eye out for offensive or potentially dangerous content. This reporting infrastructure includes report links on pages across the Facebook site, systems to prioritize the most serious reports, and a trained team of reviewers who respond to reports and remove content that violates our standards.”

Who posted the pictures and how they ended up on the pages are part of an ongoing police investigation that could lead to criminal charges. Police have received tips and leads, but there are no suspects in the case, Armstrong said.

Police have been in touch with Facebook about getting information from the account used to set up the pages, Armstrong said. “They’ve agreed to do the best they can to get that information out to us in less than the standard time. They’re taking it seriously,” he said.

The state police also are continuing to work with local law enforcement agencies, including the Skowhegan Police Department, the Oakland Police Department and the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, to identify some of the girls in the pictures originally posted on the page. Only a handful of girls had been identified as being from Maine by Thursday.


The pages generated a flurry of responses from the public, including many people who expressed disgust and disapproval toward them Tuesday and Wednesday on social media. More than 2,000 people had liked a Facebook page called “Support the victims of the purge of Maine” by Thursday night, and a second Facebook page, called “Anti-Purge Maine,” also had been started.

A total of five pages with some variation of the title “The Purge of Maine” were reported to the company beginning Tuesday and throughout the day Wednesday. The original page was taken down late Tuesday after about a dozen law enforcement agencies contacted Facebook.

One of the pages listed an email address at, a Russian search engine, and the invitation to viewers to “Email or inbox me. I’ll take care of your ex.”

Alicia Barnes, a digital media consultant in Waterville who was among those reporting the pages, said it is well known on Internet forums that hackers can hide behind accounts because of the limited information required to sign up for one.

“It’s going to take a while (to get that information),” she said. “I think that’s normal. What we need to do is take the lessons from this and put them into place.”

All the pages of explicit photos had been removed by 10 a.m. Thursday, although Armstrong said he still had concerns about them popping up again either on Facebook or other social media. Police were also investigating reports on Thursday that postings were appearing on other social media sites, but there was not yet any evidence of that.


On its website, Facebook has a “community standards” page, where it explains that certain content may be removed if it is believed to pose a risk of physical harm or a threat to public safety.

Barnes, who saw the pages Wednesday on Facebook and was among several people who reported them to Facebook, said the community standards don’t do enough to regulate content.

“Somebody needs to take Facebook to task on this to have a better mechanism to handle this stuff,” she said. “I think it’s a bigger issue than what the state thinks it is.”

When the new batch of pages of pages appeared Thursday night, Barnes said she was reporting them as harassment because they included threats to release photos of a girl on the coast who had set up an anti-Purge page in support of victims.

Barnes said she suspects a couple of copycat pages are in play because three new pages were out there, not just one. In characterizing the responder’s statement that the teens in the photos are seeking attention, Barnes said, “He’s accusing them of what he’s doing. He’s possibly a sociopath.”

Facebook’s standards are broken down into eight categories, including direct threats, self-injury, dangerous organizations, bullying and harassment, attacks on public figures, criminal activity, sexual exploitation and violence and regulated goods, which pertains to the sale of firearms, alcohol and drugs.


The page on sexual exploitation and violence defines sexual exploitation as including “solicitation of sexual material, any sexual content involving minors, threats to share intimate images, and offers of sexual services.”

“We remove content that threatens or promotes sexual violence or exploitation,” it states. “This includes the sexual exploitation of minors, and sexual assault. To protect victims and survivors, we also remove photographs or videos depicting incidents of sexual violence and images shared in revenge or without permissions from the people in the images.”

The website also includes a policy on nudity: “We restrict the display of nudity because some audiences within our global community may be sensitive to this type of content — particularly because of their cultural background or age.”

The policy states that photos of people displaying genitals will be removed from the site as well as explicit images of sexual intercourse, but that nudity is acceptable in some scenarios, such as images of women who are breastfeeding or photographs of paintings or sculptures that depict nude art.

At the same time, Facebook has to be careful of people who abuse built-in mechanisms for regulation, Barnes said.

One example, she said, was a picture of a candidate she had posted last fall during election season. Someone who wasn’t a supporter falsely reported the candidate’s picture as being pornography, and Barnes in turn reported them to Facebook for using a false account.


Armstrong said he didn’t know whether the creator of the “Purge” pages had been banned from Facebook, or whether that was possible.

The consequences for violating the community standards vary depending on the severity of the violation and the person’s history on Facebook, according to the website.

“For instance, we may warn someone for a first violation,” the company’s standards page states. “But if we continue to see further violations, we may restrict a person’s ability to post on Facebook or ban the person from Facebook.”

Staff writer Betty Adams contributed to this report.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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