Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier blasted the House Committee on Armed Services for believing that newly-issued social media policies alone will suffice to stop the bullying of female servicemembers.
In her opening remarks at a Tuesday hearing put on by the House Military Personnel Subcommittee on Armed Services, ranking member Speier said that focusing on social media policies “misses the point” and frames the recent Marines United nude female servicemember scandal as though it’s simply a matter of tweaking policy.
The Marines United scandal came to the forefront after a report from Reveal News and the independent site The War Horse revealed countless Marines involved in sharing around nude photos of female servicemembers.
“I have to say, I’m very disappointed in the topic of this hearing. Framing the issue as military social media policies frankly misses the point,” Speier said. “No one has ever gone on Facebook, looked at nonconsensually posted intimate photos, typed a rape threat, and then stopped and said, “Oh, I better not make rape threats! That’s against the military’s social media policy!””
“All of the services have had social media policies that state it is against good order and discipline to make disrespectful and derogatory posts. But here were are, exactly where we were four years ago, when I stood on the House floor and condemned the online bullying of U.S. Marine Corps servicewomen on a public Facebook page,” she added.
Speier noted that Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller stated last week that the issue is not one of social media, but rather one of culture.
“So it is appalling that the Committee is treating it as such in this hearing,” Speier said. “And it is appalling that we are not hearing from any servicemembers or veterans who have been victimized by nonconsensual pornography.”
Later in the hearing, Speier criticized Anthony M. Kurta, currently filling the duties of under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, for advocating against a single social media policy to cover all the services.
In a March 10 “White Letter,” Neller told service leaders that Marines have to be educated on the kind of behavior the Marine Corps expects online.
Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Mark A. Brilakis, deputy commandant of manpower and reserve affairs, said at the hearing that the force is “committed to using all the means within our authority to address this unacceptable conduct.”
There are some issues, however, with bringing the full brunt of the law against Marines who shared these photos, mostly because many of the nude photos are selfies that were likely posted publicly to Instagram or other similar sites.
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