The Marine Corps is still avidly addressing the distribution of nude photographs of female service members, veterans, and civilians. The nude photo scandal has shaken the inner leadership of the Marine Corps and has forced leadership to reevaluate how they prosecute cyber infractions and social media threats.

Reportedly, failing to report or address such atrocities has been something that the Corps has ignored for too long—now faced with mass media coverage and accountability they are addressing the nude photos. The photos are being exposed without consent en masse.

According to multiple sources, the Marine Corps has failed to address these issues in the past and has failed to investigate Marines United, a closed social media group that has been active for at least a decade.

Marine Corps: number of victims increasing

The Marine Corps released a new MARADMIN (Marine Administrative Message) which addresses the USMC’s policy on social media. Part of the policy (MARADMIN 181/10) states: “We do not under any circumstance allow graphic, obscene, explicit or racial comments or submissions nor do we allow comments that are abusive, hateful or intended to defame anyone or any organization.”

The MARADMIN does not mention sexist comments in its heading though, which some sources and experts on Military Sexual Trauma have noted.

Additionally, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Senator and advocate for military policy reform, states that the military has never had a history of accountability for these issues.

Allegedly, perpetrators have not taken heed to the new policy and have reportedly upped the number of photos being exposed. New private social media sites have been created that perpetuate the sharing of explicit and non-consensual photos.

Journalists and investigators have been doing their best to expose the sites.

Nude photo scandal unhinged: don’t shoot the messenger

Substantial reporting indicates that Marine veteran reporters and journalists have been on the receiving end of violent cyber retaliation for speaking out about the scandal. Several of these journalists have taken their own time to embed themselves in sites like Marines United to shut them down.

Reporters from various veteran and military media sources have been subject to cyber threats aimed at their families. One Marine from an east coast aviation unit lashed out at a journalist’s young son through social media, and other high-ranking officials have been subjected to threats made to their spouses.

This type of behavior is now in direct violation of the new policy and the USMC’s Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), an equivalent to a civilian judiciary system. The journalist has reportedly notified Marine officials about the cyber threat towards his family—this is not the first threat that journalists have received from active duty Marines.

Next up, cultural changes and training

The aftermath of this scandal has left the Corps to seriously re-evaluate their codes of conduct and their annual educational training requirements.

Experts on military sexual trauma (MST) and gender in the military are assessing that the Marine Corps will have a difficult time implementing changes without better initial socialization in boot camp and better cultural education during annual training. Addressing these issues is vital in maintaining the good order and discipline of the United States Marine Corps.