The nonconsensual sharing of sexually explicit images has been added to the sexual harassment section of the Marine Corps manual that details involuntary separation proceedings. "The distribution or broadcasting of an intimate image, without consent, if done for personal gain; or with the intent to humiliate, harm, harass, intimidate, threaten or coerce the depicted person" is now considered a violation, according to the amendment, Military.com reported.
Changes to the service’s social media guidelines were ordered shortly after the exposure earlier this year of a 30,000-member Facebook group called “Marines United,” where retired and active duty corpsmen shared nude photos of their female colleagues, often without their knowledge or consent.
Sometimes the posts would include the woman’s name, rank and duty station.
During a Senate hearing on March 14 about the scandal, Marine commander Gen. Robert Neller spoke of the need for the policy to be adjusted, saying, "I believe the policy that we revised is focused more on certain behaviors such as the one we are here to discuss today on social media… to tell all Marines that these types of things are unacceptable."
"The previous policy said that, but it did not say it quite directly," he added.
"The online behavior of some individuals, whether they are currently serving Marines, former Marines or others who simply wandered in, have attacked our Marine Corps values, our ethos … Enough is enough," Neller said, emphasizing that such incidents can have a deleterious effect on morale and the public image of the corps.
During the hearing the commander also said that military leadership should take care to keep an eye out for this kind of behavior, encouraging them to be sensitive to victims and report any issues immediately.
"Leaders should remind our Marines they are not anonymous in the virtual world and remain accountable for their actions," he said. "Where we find criminal behavior, we will take appropriate action."