Cyberbullying has recently been elevated from a frowned-upon behavior to a crime in the eyes of the United States Marine Corps. The military branch has updated its social media policy to consider online threats, harassment, and discrimination as a crime that falls under the category of “failure to obey an order or regulation.”

The change was backed by Marine Commandant General Robert Neller, who cited preexisting articles in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) that are meant to prevent disrespectful behavior and actions. In effect, the policy update does not introduce new regulations but instead makes others clearer. Neller was quoted as saying unacceptable behavior, in and out of cyberspace, is akin to “Article 92: Disobedience of an order.”

Enforcement of the policy change could be difficult in situations in which a Marine is found to have shared a photograph, video, or other information willingly shared by the alleged victim of the cyberbullying. In past criminal and legal cases outside of the military, sharing digital data to anyone on the internet at all has been seen as a form of consent, or, at the very least, reason for someone else to believe the data (read: image) was legally sharable. The same form of argument could feasibly apply to military cyberbullying cases of that nature. It would not, however, offer any protection to Marines found to be repeatedly harassing others, Marines or not, online.

The change also comes while the ongoing Marines United scandal runs across headlines across the country. After being asked by Senator Elizabeth Warren about drafting a new UCMJ provision that banned “revenge pornography” and listed it as a crime in the Armed Forces, Neller acknowledged that it would be useful for clarification. The unapproved sharing of illicit photographs and videos at the center the Marines United scandal has been labeled as “revenge pornography,” or the intention leak of private images of a former lover after the relationship ends.

If you are a Marine, or a member of any military service, and you are accused of cyber bullying, please call us for a free consult.

(Marine Corps Times has published a full article regarding the Marine Corps social media policy update, which can be viewed by clicking here.)

Military Criminal Defense Attorney Joseph L. Jordan has been following the recent news stories and policy changes regarding sexual assault, sexual harassment, cyberbullying, and so forth within the United States Armed Forces. Military service members accused of such crimes or caught up in implications related to Marines United can rely on his law firm for trustworthy, honest, and tenacious defense. Call (866) 361-4723 or use an online contact form for more information.