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Facebook battles with salty Marine pages

Jun. 3, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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Facebook administrators say they are cracking down on pages promoting misogyny and violence against women, and several Marine humor pages are among those that have been purged.

But the creators of those pages, active-duty and veteran Marines, remain unapologetic and are redoubling efforts to share their brand of Marine humor through social media and websites.

Several such Facebook pages received national attention May 8 when Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Jim Amos and Principal Deputy Inspector General Lynn Halbrooks to express her disgust with posts implying that female Marines were sleeping with superiors to get promoted and photo memes joking about domestic violence and telling women to “get back in the kitchen.” Speier demanded that Amos respond with a plan of action by May 31.

Some female Marines allege that their photos were posted on the pages without permission, and they had been targeted, bullied and harassed by fellow Marines after trying to get the content removed.

Just The Tip, Of the Spear, which had 50,000 followers, was deleted from Facebook on May 20, the same day Marine Corps Times published a cover story on the controversy. Other pages that sprang up to mock and threaten Speier also were removed, and her office confirmed that Capitol Police are investigating the sites. Shortly afterward, Facebook pulled down a number of nonmilitary pages promoting violence against women. It also announced it would be updating its guidelines regarding hate speech and training its teams to better monitor it.

Master Gunnery Sgt. Robert Raines, senior equal opportunity adviser for Headquarters Marine Corps, said the Marine Corps is ramping up training to encourage troops to be professional online, and units are cracking down on offending Marines whose identities they can confirm. But no direct response was planned in the wake of the recent controversy, he said.

Most of the deleted pages are making a Facebook comeback, albeit with fewer followers. A few have also started independent websites or moved to other forums, such as blog host Tumblr.

Many still claim their intentions are misunderstood. An administrator for F’n Wook, which was shut down in early May, said in an email to Marine Corps Times they were replicating the irreverent barracks humor familiar to all junior Marines.

“What politicians and higher-ups don’t get is that Marines joke about literally everything; humor is a coping mechanism that keeps you grounded while standing in line at the armory, in the rain, at 0200,” said the admin, who identified himself as a former infantryman.

Speier’s chief of staff, Cookab Hashemi, said his office has not received a response from Amos.

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