The Department of Defense is deepening its investigation into the nude photo-sharing scandal.

The scandal, which previously involved nude image shares of female soldiers on the private Facebook group Marines United, has expanded beyond private social media to a group of gay pornography web pages with images of men wearing military uniforms engaged in sex acts, according to USA TODAY.

Policing for inappropriate imagery is proving to be a complex test for the DoD because these images can be uploaded in real-time for the word to see.

In the case of the sites with gay pornography, military investigators will be tasked with determining whether active-duty troops were involved in conduct that could bring discredit on their service or potential violations of military law, USA TODAY reports.

In what was first thought to be an isolated incident with Marines United, the DoD is now learning it must adapt to the technical age and take a proactive approach to social media practices that can bring discredit to America’s military.

“In the digital world we are always trying to catch up,” Special Agent Curtis Evans, the director of the NCIS task force assigned to the investigation told Marine Times.

Marines will soon be required to sign a formal policy statement confirming that they have read and understood the new social media guidance issued by Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller.

The pledge is designed in part to aid the Marine Corps in prosecuting future misconduct on the social media front, according to Brig. Gen. James F. Glynn, the director of Marine Corps communications.

The Navy’s top doctor said Friday this need to be addressed with more than a top-down memo or e-mail.

“This behavior won’t be cured by email, mass stand downs, or all hands calls,” Navy Surgeon General Vice Adm. Forrest Faison said in a message sent Friday to Navy Medicine commanders worldwide. “We need to take a stand every time we witness disrespectful behavior — both in public and in private. This issue is especially critical to Navy Medicine. We are entrusted with the lives and well-being of those who have volunteered to defend our freedom.”

The Marine Corps and Navy aren’t the only branches affected by what appears to be almost a new norm in social media sharing.

The Army is sending out a new message to its force, signed by senior leaders including Gen. Mark Milley, the Army chief of staff, warning soldiers that online misconduct is unacceptable and passive tolerance of bad behavior by others is also wrong. The Army has routinely updated its social media policy to emphasize treating soldiers with dignity and respect, including in February before the Marine scandal surfaced.

The Pentagon has established a joint military task force to handle the growing investigation, said MaryAnn Cummings, a spokeswoman for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, USA TODAY reports.

Navy, Marine, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard investigators have “established a multi-service task force to expand the investigation,” she said.

WHNT News says officials have to tread carefully to avoid restricting free speech. As an example, attempting to prohibit anyone from looking at or posting a nude photo on the Internet would be difficult to do and nearly impossible to enforce.

The military, however, has greater ability to punish service members beyond strictly legal violations. Officers can be charged with conduct unbecoming an officer, and service members can be punished for harming the good order and discipline of their unit, or their military service.

These broader categories give commanders greater flexibility in ordering administrative punishment or even forcing service members to leave the military.

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