Social media is a powerful tool that can alter someone's life for better or worse. For 20-year-old Brianna Ashanti Lofton of North Carolina, it played a key role in her arrest for child abuse. In a 10-second video that received over 1.5 million views on Facebook, a hand is seen placing a cigarillo to a child's lips. According to the New York Post, the one-year-old exhaled a puff of smoke.
On Wednesday (Mar. 21), the Raleigh Police Department arrested Lofton after Internet users based in North Carolina identified her as the adult in the video. Lofton was charged with two counts of felony child abuse and contributing to delinquency and possession of marijuana. The baby was immediately placed into the county's child protective services department.
“Big thanks to everyone who posted information about the smoking mother and baby,” police department officials said in a Facebook post. “Thanks to your willingness to get involved, the child is now safe and the mother is in police custody.”
While many people began alerting police of the video on Wednesday morning, it was the user's video that received more than one million views that tipped them off. Rasheed Martin of Rochester, New York identified himself as the publisher and said even though he has yet to speak to the police department directly, he's relieved the child is safe. Martin said he stumbled across the video from a friend's page and wanted Lofton to be held accountable.