A private Facebook group called Marines United—with more than 30,000 current and former male Marines, U.S. Navy Corpsman, and British Royal Marines—was caught sharing thousands of nude photos of women without their consent. Hundreds or thousands joined chat rooms with links to Dropbox and Google drives filled with videos and images of female Marines, both nude and clothed, as well as Marine wives, ex-wives, girlfriends, and ex-girlfriends. In some cases, dozens of the women were identified by their full names, ranks, and location of duty station.
After journalist and former Marine infantryman Thomas Brennan broke the story on March 4, thousands of members exited the group and moderators and admins tightened any restrictions they could find. Almost immediately, posting and sharing of the videos and photos shifted to other groups or sites and resumed, and in some cases even accelerated.
But then a Marines United 2.0 Facebook group sprung up posting links to the same cache of photos and scrutinizing those seeking admission. Marines United 2.0 currently maintains over 3,000 members, according to a Marine who spoke on condition of anonymity, due to Department of Defense media regulations. Additionally, a Marines United 3.0 has formed, with a membership of 262 at the time of this publication.
An administrator of that group expressed his disgust about “snitches,” the investigators, reporters, victims and others hoping to gain access to the drives.
“I’m only gonna say this shit once so all of you fucks pay close goddamn attention,” wrote a user who identified himself as Garret Bailey. “If you add the fuck that snitches… I will blast you on every goddamn page from here to fucking the sandbox and back. Understand this: I will not accept a request until I can see that the person has served. If they haven’t, DON’T FUCKING ADD THEM!!! If you see someone and know they are a fucking snitch, let an admin know. This shit should have never made it to the national fucking news.”
“Write a status then post pics in the comments,” wrote Rodney Taylor of Osceola, Arkansas. “Hard to get them [nude photographs] blocked that way.”
Anyone have a specfic pics of the famous tv girls??? [female Marines that spoke out] for research,” with laughing emojis Dillon Luke Roberds of Gilbert, Arizona said.
Any videos out there besides on ph? [PornHub] It’s down for maintenance right now, I think we broke it brothers. Lol,” Marine United 2.0 member Nick Jones said.
Another heavily male, often profane Facebook group focused on Marine Corps affairs called JTOTS (Just the Tip Of The Spear) posted the same links along with others, and comments on the videos and posts were posted by others, too.
A male veteran who is a current member of the JTOTS group spoke to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity. He said the group often posts materials similar to the nude photos of Marines United, and that the threatening comments posted as comments were disturbing to him.
“Different group, same stuff,” he said of JTOTS. “When people have the word Marine on their lips it should be in reference to honor and prowess on the battlefield, not to discuss these scumbags threatening to rape female Marines.”
In addition, smaller offshoot groups have broken off from Marines United to form local chapters, with memberships ranging from single digits to more than 500. Some groups are also sharing nude photos.
The Florida chapter of Marines United has hosted images and videos similar to those that have posted in the original Marines United group. While most of the posts in the Florida group concerned support and brotherhood among Marines, nude photos of several unidentified women were posted on the group between March 2016 and September 2016.
A request for comment was sent to the page’s listed administrators, but no response was received in time for publication.
For now, Marines United, its affiliates, and several related groups continue to spread across the Internet, despite new and ongoing law enforcement and media scrutiny. The group continues to operate on mainstream social media accounts such as Facebook, but some users have started publishing nude photos and videos of the female Marines on PornHub and other pornography sites, according to Task & Purpose.
Defenders of the groups argue that no crime has been committed by members of Marines United, and that the support and brotherhood aspects of the secret pages has been overlooked by the media, according to members of Marines United interviewed by The Daily Beast.
The Secretary of Defense weighed in Friday about the harm done and seriousness of the issues raised in the Marines United scandal.
“The purported actions of civilian and military personnel on social media websites, including some associated with the Marines United group and possibly others, represent egregious violations of the fundamental values we uphold at the Department of Defense,” James Mattis, a retired Marine general said. “Lack of respect for the dignity and humanity of fellow members of the Department of Defense is unacceptable and counter to unit cohesion. We will not excuse or tolerate such behavior if we are to uphold our values and maintain our ability to defeat the enemy on the battlefield.”
The Marine Commandant, Gen. Robert Neller, will appear Tuesday before the Senate and House Armed Services Committees to answer questions and update lawmakers on the status of the military’s investigation.