The scandal that prompted an investigation into hundreds of Marines who are accused of sharing naked photographs of their colleagues in a private Facebook group is much larger than has been reported, Business Insider has learned.
The practice of sharing such photos goes beyond the Marine Corps and one Facebook group. Hundreds of nude photos of female service members from every military branch have been posted to an image-sharing message board that dates back to at least May. A source informed Business Insider of the site's existence on Tuesday.
The site, called AnonIB, has a dedicated board for military personnel that features dozens of threaded conversations among men, many of whom ask for "wins" — naked photographs — of specific female service members, often identifying the women by name or where they are stationed.
The revelation comes on the heels of an explosive story published on Saturday by the journalist Thomas Brennan. He reported on a Facebook group called Marines United, which was home to approximately 30,000 members who were sharing nude photos of colleagues along with personal information and even encouragement of sexual assault.
The report led the Marine Corps to open an investigation, spurred widespread outrage in the media and in Congress, and prompted sharp condemnation from the Corps' top leaders. According to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, investigators are considering felony charges that could carry a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.
An official familiar with the matter told Business Insider that the Marine commandant, Gen. Robert Neller, would brief members of the House Armed Services Committee next week on the scandal.
"We're examining some of our policies to see if we can make them punitive in nature," the official said, adding that the Corps was taking the issue very seriously.
A Facebook-group exodus leads to a message board's popularity
marine general nellerView photos
marine general neller
(Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps. He is expected to brief Congress next week on the scandal.US Marine Corps/Cpl. Shawn Valosin)
Brennan's story also led to an apparent exodus of members from the private Facebook group, though some appeared to have found the publicly viewable message board soon after — with the express intent of finding the cache of nude images that Marines in the Facebook group were sharing.
"Come on Marines share the wealth here before that site is nuked and all is lost," one anonymous user said in a post on Monday, two days after Brennan's story was published. Follow-up replies offered a link to a Dropbox folder named "Girls of MU" with thousands of photographs.
Dropbox did not respond to a request for comment.
Members on the board often posted photos — seemingly stolen from female service members' Instagram accounts — before asking others if they had nude pictures of a female service member.
For example, after posting the first name and photograph of a female soldier in uniform on January 21, one board member asked for "Army chick went to [redacted], ig is [redacted]." Another user, apparently frustrated that no pictures had yet been found, posted a few days later: "BUMP. Let's see them t------."
On another thread, a member posted a photograph on May 30 of a female service member with her breasts exposed and said, "She is in the navy down in san diego, anyone have any more wins?"