This week another privacy controversy surfaced in the United States Marine Corps. The MarineTimes, which claims to be an “trusted, independent source for news and information” for Marines and their families, broke a story early in the week about a female Marine who's pictures were being distributed around her base. These are pictures that she took and had placed on the site OnlyFans.com. The Marine, a single mother, claimed that she was trying to make a little extra money to help support her family. OnlyFans.com is a site used by social influencers to provide additional content to their fans for a subscription fee. The site has been used by many personal brands, including porn actresses and actors, to promote themselves and to provide additional content to subscribers. The Marine claimed in her twitter feed that she was using OnlyFans.com because it was “private” because people had to pay to use it. Well, of course, someone that knew her – most likely another Marine – tracked down her OnlyFans feed either through her public posts or by just happening upon it, and that was that. Her “private” content was soon spread to her fellow Marines and throughout her worksite.
Marine Times Publication of Personal Information
The original article Marine Times article included her name, a cropped picture of the Marine, and her Twitter handle. Thus, it would be easy for anyone to find her and subject her to personal harassment. In short, the Marine went from relative obscurity to instant notoriety after she overshared and her personal information was published in a national magazine.
Needless to say, she was not pleased. The Marine complained in her Twitter feed that she had asked the Marine Times reporter for anonymity, but he refused. She was extremely frustrated by all the extra attention and mentioned in her feed that this is why people “kill themselves.” The Marine Times did revise and republish the article without her personal information, but only after her complaints and an email from Marine Corps Headquarters requesting that they take the article down.
Support from Marine Leadership
James LaPorta, a former marine and current reporter for Newsweek, wrote an article on Friday that reviewed the situation and discussed Marine Corps leadership's decision to support the female Marine by requesting that the article be removed. Marine Headquarters claimed that the Marine was inexperienced in dealing with the press and was not aware that her interactions with them may not be anonymous. Laporta claimed that the Marine Times article had made the situation worse, not better. The Marine has since deleted her Twitter account.
She also tried to cancel her OnlyFans.com account, but complained that you can't cancel the account as long as someone was subscribing to the account. Unsurprisingly, her newfound and unwanted notoriety brought in new subscribers. So she was going stop posting content and raise the subscription price to the maximum to encourage people not to subscribe. To put it simply, she had lost control of her images (and reputation).
This whole incident is full of lessons and difficult questions on personal privacy. It's a classic example of oversharing. The Marine who shared believed that this would all remain small and private to a few anonymous people. She had no idea this would go viral and impact her work and personal life.
She wanted some exposure but not too much exposure
Well. we all know that you can't always get what you want and things often don't turn out the way you think they should. Never forget that. Here are a few things to remember before you share.
1. You can go Viral in an Instant.
This Marine went from a “normal” person with less than 1000 twitter followers and making a little money on the side at OnlyFans.com to the subject of a story in not one, but two, national magazines in 3 days. The story broke on Tuesday and she basically had to go into hiding by Friday.
2. Control is Critical
This Marine lost control of her content by posting it on a third party site. She said that could not cancel her OnlyFans.com account while she still had subscribers. And her newfound fame only brought in more. I don't know if she has been able to cancel her account yet, but the fact that she tried right after the story broke and couldn't is a problem. You need to be very careful placing any content on a third party site, lest you lose control. You want to keep control of your content.
The Marine Times reporter, Phillip Athey, punished her name, quotes, and twitter handle even after she asked him not to do so. Remember, the media is trying to sell advertising. They need eyeballs and clicks. Without either, they are out of business. So, no matter how nice they seem, reporters and the media don't care about you. While you are dealing with the fallout, they are already on to the next story. Media is not your privacy friend.