- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 3, 2018

“Kaitlin Robertson” may or may not exist, but either way the Marine Corps wants to make sure she stops trying to lure new recruits.

Marine officials said Tuesday they’ve reminded recruiting officers not to use dating apps as a way to attract young men to consider signing up, and made clear that Bumble, Tinder, and other romantic websites aren’t acceptable ways to boost their ranks. The issue arose Monday and Tuesday after a Reddit user posted screen shots of a conversation on Bumble — a popular dating app that differs from its competitors in that it requires women to initiate a conversation — in which a woman named Kaitlin tried to convince him to join the Marines.

“Hey! My name is Kaitlin Robertson and I am with the Marines Corps,” the woman said. “Have you ever considered joining the military? I would love to have one of my recruiters sit down and talk with you about all of your options within the Marine Corps, including education, financial stability, hundreds of job opportunities, and free health/dental insurance, just to name a few. I would love to make you part of our Marine Corps family!!”

The online interaction was first reported by the Marine Corps Times. The Bumble user quickly rebuffed the attempt.

“You’re not even going to try to bribe me with crayons?” he responded.

By Tuesday morning, Marine Corps officials said they had sent the word out to all its recruiters not to not to form a short- or long-term relationship with dating apps.

“The Marine Corps Recruiting Command is aware of a story reported Monday night alleging the use of a social media dating application by a Marine recruiter to interact with the public. Marine recruiters are not permitted by policy to use dating apps to contact people in a business capacity and the person named in the article is not a Marine recruiter,” Gunnery Sgt. Justin Kronenberg told The Washington Times. “Still, command-wide guidance was reemphasized today to ensure recruiters are up to date with online conduct expectations.”

Marine Corps officials said they searched “Kaitlin Robertson” and found no Marines or Marine recruiters with that name, and it appears an overzealous recruiter crafted a fake Bumble profile with the moniker.

It’s unclear who is shown in the Bumble profile photo.

“We don’t know if that’s a real photo,” a Marine official said. “We take it seriously enough to run a quick search of our personnel database to find out it’s not an active-duty Marine, it’s not a Marine recruiter.”

Beyond those searches, officials say it’s next to impossible to find out who made the profile, how long it has been in use, and how many men may have tried to take up “Kaitlin’s” offer.

Officials said there have been “anecdotal instances” of similar recruiting attempts in the past, though they didn’t elaborate on the number or if anyone had been disciplined as a result.

More broadly, officials said the Marine Corps “does not discourage innovation” and that their policy encourages recruiters “who want to try something new” — though radical departures from past practice are supposed to be run up the chain of command for approval.

In this case, such approval was not granted to the recruiter who made the Bumble profile, officials said.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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