After a bombshell investigation revealed hundreds of Marines were allegedly involved in sharing nude photos of their fellow female service members on Facebook, the 30,000-member group was shut down.
But the photos — which included revenge porn and images apparently taken by stalking — have proved to have a longer life. Copycat Marines United Facebook groups quickly sprang up, some of the photos were uploaded to porn sites, and download links circulated purporting to hold the now-deleted files.
Then this week, the scandal moved to a new platform: Snapchat.
A person claiming to be an active-duty Marine ran the account wooknationx4. Wook or wookie is slang for a female Marine.
The account was no longer live on Tuesday, but BuzzFeed News reviewed screenshots of the its Snapchat story, which included nude photos of women who weren’t obviously identifiable.
Snapchat's Community Guidelines prohibit pornography, as well as harassment and invasions of privacy. A spokesman for Snapchat told BuzzFeed News that a dedicated team reviews reports of abuse.
If abuse isn't reported by an account's followers, however, stopping it can be less certain. The Snapchat spokesman said an account that was linked to one previously removed, for example, could come under investigation by the company for violations.
John Albert, a retired Marine who attempted to get Marines United taken off Facebook last fall, flagged the Snapchat account to BuzzFeed News and other news outlets. He said he continues to be disheartened that misogyny and revenge porn, a crime in many states, is tarnishing the honor of the Marine Corps.
“The fact that this environment has existed for so long should be embarrassing to every person currently or formerly in the US armed forces,” he told BuzzFeed News. “We can’t just shrug stuff like this off forever. We have to fix this or it will continue to define us forever.”
He added the scandal is putting a shadow over every Marine, including friends of his who have died.
“That bad stuff overpowers the good things that we do," Albert said. "Do we want our Marine Corps, our military as a whole, to be remembered as the people that sacrificed to protect our country, or have our legacy instead be that we were apathetic about these deep-rooted moral issues that are slowly destroying us from within our own ranks?”
Claudia Koerner is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Claudia Koerner at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.