SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Following an NCIS investigation after nude photos of female Marines were leaked onto a public Facebook page without their consent, the U.S. military created a guide for personnel about how they should conduct themselves online.
According to Military.com, Commandant Gen. Robert Neller sent a "White Letter" on March 10, outlining what is expected of troops in their conduct on social media.
The letter was sent to all senior leaders in the service, ordering them to support self-identified victims of Facebook harassment and illicit photo sharing and educate their troops.
Neller said that to avoid future social media scandals, Marines must be educated, not only on the service's expectations for their online behavior, but also on the dangers and vulnerabilities inherent in online activity.
According to Military.com, an updated version of the Corp's 2010 guidance on social media will soon be published.
The Navy's Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richards, wrote a blog post on March 14, addressing the fleetwide problem of sexism.
"The discovery of online sites that degrade the female members of our team has shined a light on the fact that this problem persists. But we get reminders of it every day, when we disrespect women by crude jokes, wisecracks, sexual harassment, and in its worst manifestation, sexual assault — a serious violent crime. Despite a steady effort to get after this, we're not making progress," Richardson wrote.
"This demeaning activity offends so many of us because fundamentally, this is not how we treat true teammates."
Richardson also added that commanding officers should "talk about what respect for teammates looks like at work, at home and online."
"Make it clear that individuals who can't live up to our professional standards in competence and character are not welcome in our Navy," Richardson said.
In early March, the Naval Criminal Investigation Service launched an investigation regarding the 30,000-member Facebook page, "Marines United."
The page included images of fully or partially nude identified female military members as well as some unidentifiable women, and some obscene comments, officials told the AP.
The Marine Corps released the following statement on the allegations:
The Marine Corps is deeply concerned about allegations regarding the derogatory online comments and sharing of salacious photographs in Marines United, a closed website. This behavior destroys morale, erodes trust and degrades the individual. The Marine Corps does not condone this sort of behavior, which undermines its core values. As General Neller said in his recent Message to the Force, the Marine Corps’ success in battle depends on trust, mutual respect and teamwork.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein addressed all airmen about the recent scandal in a March 10 statement:
"People are the foundation of our Air Force. Our mutual support for each other is based on dignity, respect and trust ... a Wingman culture. As Wingmen, we must continuously demonstrate courage and strength of character to do and say the right things, at the right times, to protect each other ... there is no other acceptable option.
When Airmen fail to live up to our core values — Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do — the reputation of all who serve and have served is tarnished. These values apply to behavior on social media. Any conduct or participation in activities, whether online or offline, that does not adhere to these core values is NOT acceptable.
From our newest airman basic to the chief of staff, we are all accountable for meeting ethical and performance standards in our actions. We should live our core values every day ... on and off duty."
Military.com reports that the Army sent out a social media guidance letter, dated March 17, which was signed by acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, and Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey.
The letter calls on soldiers and Army civilians to treat each other with dignity and respect.
"Recent misconduct on social media has deeply affected our military community.
We are all figures of public trust and our conduct must be exemplary. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow soldiers from reception stations through basic training, AIT, and combat deployments builds trust that is forever weakened or erased when a fellow soldier is victimized by disparaging and degrading comments made in person or posted on social media.
The assumption of anonymity on social media is false. Active participation and passive tolerance of online misconduct are equally destructive to the foundational trust essential to our ability to decisively fight and win the Nation's wars.
We expect soldiers and civilians to adhere to AR 600-20, Army Command Policy, and the Army's Online Conduct Policy, which together state that harassment, bullying, hazing, stalking, discrimination, retaliation, or any other type of misconduct are contrary to Army Values."
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