Fact check: Altered image makes false claim Marines can wear LGBTQ pin – USA TODAY

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As Pride Month draws to a close, some social media posts are claiming the Marine Corps recently announced a policy to give service members a new means of self-expression. 
“U.S. Marines now able to wear LGBTQ+ pin on uniform,” reads a June 24 Facebook post that purports to show a headline from Canada-based outlet Global News.
The claim was shared more than 350 times in six days and surfaced in other social media posts as well.
But no such article exists. The reporter identified in the screenshot said she didn’t write any such story, and an Instagram user with the same username as the Facebook poster acknowledged the article screenshot was fabricated.
There’s also no evidence the Marine Corps has updated its policy to allow such pins.
USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the claim for comment.
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Though the Facebook post features a screenshot purporting to be that of a June 22 Global News article, no such story came up in a USA TODAY search of the outlet’s website or the reporter’s author page
Kathryn Mannie, the reporter whom the post identified as the author of the article, said in a June 28 email she did not write it and that the outlet was working to get the content removed.
The Instagram account notinregz posted a screenshot of the June 24 Facebook post on June 29 saying, “I made this fake article and everyone got baited.”
Mannie did write an article about the Marines earlier in the month that appears to be the basis of the altered headline in the post. The June 2 story has the same byline and timestamp as the one seen on the Facebook post, though its headline and date were altered. 
USA TODAY found no evidence such pins are now allowed by the Marine Corps.
The branch’s policy on flags says it applies to “public displays or depictions of flags by Service members and civilian employees in all Department of Defense work places, common access areas, and public areas.”
In June 2021, then-Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said the Department of Defense would maintain its policy banning the display or depiction of unofficial flags at its facilities and that there “won’t be an exception made this month for the pride flag.”
Kirby said the decision in “no way reflects any lack of respect or admiration for people of the LGBTQ+ community.”  Rather, he said it marked a continuation of a July 2020 policy that outlined which flags military members are authorized to display. In addition to the American flag, the policy allows military personnel to display flags of states and territories, military service flags and the POW/MIA flag. 
There is no mention of a change to this policy from reputable news outlets or in a list of recent Marine Corps news releases
Fact check: The Biden administration has flown Pride flags in Muslim-majority countries
Based on our research, we rate ALTERED an image that purports to show that Global News reported Marines can now wear a LGBTQ+ pin on their uniforms.  Global News told USA TODAY no such article exists, and a social media user admitted fabricating the screenshot. There is no evidence the Marines updated their July 2020 policy on the display of unofficial flags.
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Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook. 


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