Last month, the Defense Department launched an investigation into allegations that U.S. Marines leaked nude photos of female members and other women on a secret Facebook page, and now military women are urging Facebook to do more to keep revenge porn off the site.
An advocacy group for women in the Marines, Not in My Marine Corps, wrote a letter to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg claiming she hasn't done enough to remove private and public groups that share nude photos of women without their consent. Signed by Erin Kirk-Cuomo, co-founder of Not in My Marine Corps and a Marine veteran, the letter talks about the now-defunct Facebook page at the center of the scandal, saying it "exposed the kind of pervasive misogynistic behavior that female military members have endured for decades."
Facebook revealed a new plan for dealing with revenge porn in April, using new photo-matching tools to stop future attempts to share explicit images. The announcement said if someone tried to share a photo after it had been reported or removed, they will be warned they're violating the site's policies and won't be allowed to share it.
Kirk-Cuomo's letter did give Sandberg credit for the new tools, but ultimately said it wasn't enough. "Facebook has been negligent in removing pages, groups and users, that actively promote non-consensual intimate photo sharing and incite sexual violence and harassment," Kirk-Cuomo claimed. "For Facebook leadership to publicize their value to the military family, then ignore its complicity in the misconduct perpetrated by its users, is, at best, naive. At its worst, this failure directly contributes to the inescapable sexism that is part of the military culture."
The letter says that after the Facebook group causing the scandal was unearthed, dozens of similar groups were discovered as well and claimed "the slow removal process allows this cancer to metastasize."
Neither Facebook nor Sandberg have publicly responded to the letter.
Women in the military continue to speak out and take action in the wake of the nude photo scandal breaking, and another group of military women also penned a letter calling out the widespread misogyny in the military.
The group Actionable Change wrote a letter, signed by almost 100 people and obtained by The Washington Post, to their fellow Marines. “In a culture that prizes masculinity, it is easy to mistake barbarism for strength. Brutality for power. Savagery for ferocity,” the letter reads. “Yet we respectfully disagree with the notion that to fight and win our nation’s battles, we must preserve an institution where men are permitted or even expected to behave like animals, and women trespass at their peril.”
Actionable Change wants to make revenge porn illegal in the military and work to end other other types of gender discrimination female Marines face every day. The group is currently only open to women, but plans to allow men to join once it gets on its feet.
Both groups want to put an end to military women being degraded and humiliated by revenge porn, whether the photos are shared on Facebook or elsewhere.
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