US Marines issue stricter rules in wake of pic scandal
WASHINGTON: Battered by a nude photo-sharing scandal, the Marine Corps has issued a longer and more detailed social media policy that lays out the professional and legal ramifications for service members culpable of online misconduct.
Among the coming changes: a requirement that all Marines sign a statement acknowledging they have read and understand the new guidelines.
The adjustments are made to give leaders more leeway in prosecuting or punishing offenders.
Former and current female Marines have reported their photographs and those of women in other services being posted on social media pages without their consent.
Investigators are also looking into threatening and obscene comments Marines wrote accompanying the images.
The new policy makes it clear how existing rules and the Uniform Code of Military Justice can be used to prosecute offensive, indecent or disrespectful online activities.
But it creates no new laws, underscoring the legal quagmire posed by the internet and the constraints on military leaders posed by privacy laws and the right to free speech.
Released in recent days by Gen Robert Neller, the Marine commandant, the Corps’ new guidance is one result of the ongoing criminal investigation.
“Marines should think twice before engaging in questionable online activities, and must avoid actions online that threaten the morale, operational readiness and security, or public standing of their units, or that compromise our core values,” the policy states, addressing any content or comments that are deemed defamatory, threatening, harassing or discriminating on the basis of race, color, sex, gender, age, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or other criteria. — AP