The Military's Response to the Marines United Scandal Is a Big Win for Women

April 20th 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps just took a major step to protect the privacy of its members.

Following national media reports about a private Facebook page created by marines to share intimate photos of female members, U.S. Navy regulations now explicitly outlaw the sharing of personal photos without permission.

On Wednesday, officials from the Department of the Navy — which also oversees the Marines — published a message signed by Navy Secretary Sean Stackley about the big regulations change. It states that the new regulation bans electronic sharing of nude or intimate photos without consent in order to humiliate, harass, or coerce the subject, according to Military.com.

If service members violate the new regulation they can be prosecuted under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which makes it illegal to disobey an order.

"The recent message from the Secretary of the Navy applies to all Marines," Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Ryan Alvis told Military.com. "This means that the wrongful distribution or broadcasting of an intimate image by members of the Marine Corps may be punishable as a violation of a lawful general order."

The new regulation comes after the infamous Marines United scandal.


Starting in January, a secret Facebook page called Marines United asked for nude or intimate pictures of female service members to be shared without their knowledge, and received hundreds of submissions in response. The group was first made public by Reveal, a platform for the Center for Investigative Reporting. The group reportedly had 30,000 followers before it was shutdown by Facebook in March. It was reportedly started after the first female infantry Marines were incorporated in January, prompting military officials to worry about its affect on female service members.

"This behavior destroys morale, erodes trust and degrades the individual," Alvis said in a statement on March 5. "The Marine Corps does not condone this sort of behavior, which undermines its core values. As General [Robert] Neller said in his recent Message to the Force, the Marine Corps’ success in battle depends on trust, mutual respect and teamwork."

"U.S. Marine Critical Skills Operators from United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command conduct combat marksmanship training."

Facebook recently introduced new tools to fight revenge porn.

After the Marines United scandal made headlines, the social media giant worked with the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative to develop the new policy on revenge porn. After a user reports an image as potential revenge porn, it will be reviewed by the company and removed if determined to be a violation. Facebook may also decide to disable the account that shared the photo, and then use photo-matching software to find other copies.

"We then use photo-matching technologies to help thwart further attempts to share the image on Facebook, Messenger and Instagram," read a Facebook blog post. "If someone tries to share the image after it’s been reported and removed, we will alert them that it violates our policies and that we have stopped their attempt to share it."

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