Pentagon officials have launched an investigation into recent reports that lewd photographs of female service members have been shared online by fellow servicemen in a Dropbox folder titled “Hoes Hoin.’”
These allegations come not long after a secret Facebook site for US Marines, which had around 30,000 members and included 131,000 inappropriate photos, was exposed about a year ago.
On Monday, US Marine Corps Captain Christopher Harrison announced that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service has launched an investigation into 267 photographs of service women that were allegedly shared on the internet.
Congress approved a court-martial punishment in December for any service members that participate in the “wrongful broadcast or distribution of intimate visual images” as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.
On Monday, Harrison and Pentagon spokesperson Carla Gleason announced that the latest scandal involves multiple service branches. However, they did not specify whether active duty or reserve service members were suspected of sharing the photographs.
“As part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, which became law on December 12, 2017, Congress enacted a new criminal offense for the military called: ‘Wrongful broadcast or distribution of intimate visual images,” Gleason said.
“That new statutory authority will aid the department in holding appropriately accountable service members who engage in this misconduct,” she added.
According to Gleason, the US Defense Department has been cooperating with social media platforms to curb the spread of “malicious content,” including “revenge porn,” when intimate images or recordings of partners engaged in sexual acts are made public to humiliate one of the parties after the couple parts ways.
According to Stars and Stripes, many of the photos show female service members in their military attire, with their faces, dog tags and name tags completely visible. Some of the photos show women performing sexual acts, while others are side-by-side collages of service members — on one side they are in full uniform, on the other they are nude.
In a recent statement by Dropbox, the file-hosting service company confirmed that the photographs have been removed and banned from its website.
“It cannot be recirculated on Dropbox. As always, we investigate reports of content that violates our Acceptable Use Policy. If we find a violation, we take down the content and, when appropriate, take other measures, such as banning the content and/or reporting to law enforcement,” the statement said.
Last March, online news service War Horse revealed that 30,000 people were members of a now-deleted Facebook group called Marines United. In the group, active-duty and former Marines posted inappropriate photographs of female service members, made derogatory comments and even posed threats toward them.
The US Marine Corps announced last week that 55 Marines have been punished so far for their involvement in such online sexual harassment.