Marines create new social media policy after nude photo scandal
Posted 8:00 p.m. Wednesday
New social media guidelines now apply to members of the Unites States Navy and Marine Corps, officially baring service members from distributing nude photos without the consent of the individual depicted.
The new regulations come in the wake of the discovery on online pages where current and former Marines shared often lewd photos of female service-members without permission.
Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Mary and Liz are three different Marine women who share a common thread. Their pictures, along with thousands of others, turned up on private Facebook groups like Marines United, captioned with degrading and sexually violent comments.
All three women claim they reported the photos years ago, but were either blamed or rebuffed.
“I don’t feel ashamed sending that picture to that person who I had loved so much. But, to see my picture out like that and all these judging eyes…shaming me for something that has absolutely nothing to do with them, it’s unacceptable,” Liz said.
Liz served in the Marines for 10 years. During her 2010 deployment in Afghanistan, she found out her then Marine boyfriend circulated a nude photo of her.
“My supervisor could tell that I was on the verge of tears. But, he told me that if I go forward and report this then I would get into trouble because I would be seen as a distributor of pornography,” she said.
Even harmless pictures of the women in uniform weren’t off limits.
Elizabeth Fitzgerald, who spend 6 years in the Marines, had a photo taken of her and her team after they finished a training event in 2013.
Fitzgerald was so proud, she put the photo on her private Facebook page. Within 24 hours, it had made its way to one of Facebook’s private group pages and the comments poured in.
“Talking about who they’d rather sleep with in the photo, that female Marines were a joke. It was an awful feeling to be publicly humiliated by people we served with, by Marines who are supposed to be our brothers in arms,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald didn’t even have a chance to report the incident before being called in by her female superiors.
“We were told it was our fault, that we shouldn’t have taken the photo, that it shouldn’t have been on social media and basically, because we took the photo, this is what we get,” she said.
Mary, who is currently serving in the Marines, said she is afraid about the backlash for speaking out and asked to have her name and identity hidden.
Unbeknownst to Mary, a Marine took a picture of her in uniform, from behind, at a shooting range. Comments ranged from critiques of her appearance to accusations of flirting with other Marines. She figured out who took the picture and reported him.
“They told me there’s nothing they could do about it because he wasn’t part of our unit,” Mary said.
This left Mary worrying how the photo would affect her career.
“Unfortunately, females in the Marine Corp have a harder time maintaining their reputation, even if they have a clean record,” she said.
All three women said they believe the top brass in the Marines was aware of the problem of lewd pictures for a long time, but turned a blind eye.
Now, it has become so explosive that the Marines’ top general told a Congressional committee that things are going to be different from now on.
“What’s it going to take for you to accept these Marines as Marines? I’m committed to making this right and I need all Marines equally committed,” said Gen. Robert Neller.
That commitment begins with every Marine signing their name, acknowledging the Marines’ new social media policy that comes with a stiff punishment for violations.
There is also a new reporting structure in place for alleged victims.