Stumble onto a random revenge-porn site, and you'll likely be confronted with various avatars of trolls who hide behind screen names and aliases. But that wasn't the case with the "Marines United" private Facebook group that retired service member John Albert found himself invited to in September 2016. Instead, as Jared Keller explains in this disturbing piece at Task & Purpose, Albert saw actual guys he'd served with, going by their real names and posting what Albert calls "creepshots," graphic images of female Marines put up without permission, as well as videos, rape threats against "wooks" (servicewomen), pornographic acts, and links to off-site files of the same. And the rabbit hole Albert had fallen into only scratched the surface of similar online forums that administrators and defenders call important support systems for veterans, but detractors label "bastions of cruelty and abuse."
Albert couldn't confront the men he knew directly in the Marines United group—"I love these guys; I went to war with them"—so he simply reported the group to Facebook for posting nudity. A week later, the group was gone, but another by the same name popped up a week later, illustrating the difficulty in scrubbing the internet of these sites (Keller describes some of their members as "die-hard … devotees"). Just as important as the horrific individual anecdotes, however, is the fact that this specific scandal within the Marines—the military branch with the tiniest proportion of women, yet the largest rate of sexual assaults—is indicative of a larger problem: blatant sexism within the ranks, going all the way up to the top. Dive into the backstory of Marines United and other forums like it here. (More on the recent Marines nude-photo commotion.)