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US Marine Corps issues new social media guidance following naked photo sharing scandal

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A workplace reminder on online conduct

U.S. And South Korean Marines Hold Joint Air And Ground Combat Training Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Following the revelation that hundreds of Marines were under investigation for sharing naked pictures of female service members, Marine Commandant General Robert Neller issued a new guidance for social media usage earlier this week.

The All Marine (ALMAR) message went out on March 14th, and serves as a guidance for how Marines should be representing themselves when posting Marines-related content online in an unofficial capacity. The message follows a report from The Center for Investigative Reporting that revealed Marines United, a secret Facebook group used to share and solicit explicit images of service women, in some cases, identifying them by name, rank, branch and location. The investigation has since spread to other branches of the military.

The message urges Marines to think about what they are posting on social media or blogs because they represent the Marine Corps in and out of uniform, and that conduct such as what was seen in the Marines United group reflects upon the entire branch. Specifically, Neller reminded Marines to “never engage in commentary or publish content on social networking platforms or through other forms of communication that harm good order and discipline,” and defines that content and commentary as “defamatory, threatening, harassing, or which discriminates based on a persons race, color, sex, gender, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or other protected criteria.” The ALMAR also reminded Marines that they are to report any misconduct that they witness to their chain of command.

Those who violate those rules could face punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which specifically prohibits the type of conduct that was seen in Marines United.

The Marine Corps has widely condemned the behavior, but the incident has unveiled a toxic culture within the branch, which has prompted some commentators to call for the resignation of General Neller. Earlier this year, female Marines were assigned infantry units for the first time, a year after former Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that combat jobs would be open across the military.