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Police investigate Instagram account exposing witnesses in criminal cases

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An anonymous Instagram account has outed more than 30 people as crime witnesses who cooperated with police, according to a new report, posting their photos, police statements, and testimony to its nearly 7,900 followers. The account's goal: to "expose rats," according to its Instagram bio. Philadelphia police and prosecutors are investigating the account, rats215, telling the Philadelphia Inquirer that witness intimidation has become a significant problem for the local district attorney's office.

Instagram closed the account yesterday after the Inquirer asked about it. According to the newspaper, many of the statements posted to rats215 aren't public records, raising the question of who leaked them to the anonymous account holder. (The account regularly solicited followers for pictures of witnesses.) Each photograph received scores of "likes" and generated comments urging violence against the witnesses, the report said.