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Chicago teen gang-raped on Facebook Live as 40 watched

Police are searching for five to six men who sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl as dozens watched on live video.

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Facebook Live has been used to broadcasts dozens of acts of violence since its launch a year ago.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Chicago police are searching for five to six men who sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl in an attack viewed by dozens of people on Facebook Live.

The live video, which has been removed from the social network, was viewed by approximately 40 people, but none reported the attack to police, authorities said Tuesday. The incident marks the second time in recent months Chicago police have investigated an apparent attack streamed on Facebook Live. In January, four people were arrested in the beating of a special-needs teenager that was livestreamed on the tool.

Chicago police detectives found the girl Tuesday, a day after the girl's mother approached a police superintendent as he was leaving a news conference and showed him screen grabs of the attack, according to police.

"It's disgusting. It's so disgusting," the girl's mother said, describing the apparent assault in an interview with CBS Chicago, before the girl was found. "I didn't really want to look at it that much, but from what I saw, they were pouring stuff on her, and just... she was so scared."

Facebook Live, which lets anyone with a phone and internet connection livestream video directly to Facebook's 1.8 billion users, has become a centerpiece feature for the social network. In the past few months, everyone from Hamilton cast members to the Donald Trump campaign have turned to Facebook to broadcast in real time.

But the focus on video has prompted some tough philosophical questions, like what Facebook should and shouldn't show. In the year since its launch, the feature has been used to broadcast at least 50 acts of violence, according to the Wall Street Journal, including murder and suicides.

"Crimes like this are hideous and we do not allow that kind of content on Facebook," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "We take our responsibility to keep people safe on Facebook very seriously and will remove videos that depict sexual assault and are shared to glorify violence."

Updated at 8 p.m. PT to include Facebook statement.

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