Members of the US military have been accused of poor conduct for ‘cringeworthy’ thirst trap TikTok posts while in uniform.
Several TikTok accounts owned by people who claim to be in the military have amassed millions of followers for their flirtatious, suggestive and provocative videos, posted to draw attention to their own attractiveness.
An unknown number of service members still use the platform in a personal capacity despite it being banned for military affairs by the Pentagon, Army and Navy in 2019.
And the recent debate about soldiers and sailors having an account has come as President Donald Trump alleges that the Chinese-made app is a security threat.
Two of the most popular military ‘thirst trap’ TikTok users are John Bland, right, who goes by the handle @notohkayjohn and Garrett Nolan, who posts as @garett__nolan, shown left
The online military community is debating whether TikTok posts such as this from account @notohkayjohn while in uniform is poor conduct
While many service members use the popular short-video app to post about dancing, working out and sharing their life stories, a subculture has emerged for military thirst traps among both men and women.
One of the most infamous users, according to the Military Times, is John Bland, who goes by the handle @notohkayjohn.
His videos feature him partially dressed in his uniform, often moving suggestively to music or staring seductively into the camera.
‘So horny I told her I read my daily horoscope,’ one of his post reads, while another answers questions from followers about when his Only Fans account is coming.
Some of his most suggestive posts see him grabbing his crotch or tugging at his underwear, prompting criticism from some.
‘Someone please come get your soldier,’ Twitter user Payton Smith wrote while reposting one of the ‘cringey’ videos.
John Bland’s videos feature him partially dressed in his uniform in a darkened room, often moving suggestively to music or staring seductively into the camera
The videos have been criticized by some social media users
Some users called out the hypocrisy of Bland’s videos when those from women are criticized
Some in the online military community said the videos made them feel ‘sick’
‘Honestly I find all these sensual tik-toks weird and slightly predatory but in uniform???? shoulda stayed in the drafts,’ another user named Em wrote.
‘I’ll take “videos that made me way more uncomfortable than two girls dancing to a popular song” for $500 alex,’ she added.
‘I wonder if people think this is how all the service members look,’ a woman named Kris wrote while another user asked ‘please tell me why this app isn’t abolished yet’.
‘This is so cringeworthy I almost feel sick,’ posted one user.
Yet despite the push back, Bland has so far earned himself 1.1million followers.
Even more successful is user Garrett Nolan, who posts as @garett__nolan, and according to the Military Times is a Marine Reservist.
He has a massive 6.4million followers for his similar videos, often showing himself in full uniform or going through training.
Most of Nolan’s videos show him sitting in the same position and smoldering into the camera.
Garrett Nolan, who posts as @garett__nolan, has a massive 6.4million followers
Nolan’s videos often showing himself in full uniform or going through training
Garett Nolan is among the most popular military TikTokers. Service members still use the platform in a personal capacity despite it being banned for military affairs in 2019
Women in the military have also been bashed for the TikTok use.
Earlier in August, outrage swept the military community after a video on TikTok went viral that showed two uniformed female soldiers performing the choreographed ‘WAP’ dance.
Shared by user Kamyrnvinson01, the video appears to show her and another female soldier dancing while ‘WAP’ blasts in the background.
Yet the Military Times reported that some were angered by the video. A number of comments that disparaged it were explicit and sexist, including several men calling for women to be barred from military service.
Some members of the military community condemned a TikTok video showing two uniformed female soldiers performing a dance to the song ‘WAP’ by Cardi B and Megan thee Stallion
User Kamyrnvinson01 shared the video to TikTok, but it has since been made private as it garnered attention on other social media sites and went viral
A number of comments lambasting the video were explicit and sexist, with many men using the video as reason for women’s departure from the military
Others made hyperbolic statements that China, the country that created TikTok, had somehow emerged victorious.
‘Women have no business serving in the military,’ wrote Jesse Lee Peterson, a radio show host and pastor who once called President Trump ‘The Great White Hope.’
‘China will win without firing a shot,’ one affronted user wrote.
A man who claimed to be a non-commissioned officer chastised the video as ‘disgraceful to the uniform.’
‘As a non-commissioned officer in the United States Army… we, as in the professional service men and women, do not condone this behavior,’ he wrote.
‘It is disgraceful to the uniform and inappropriate on all levels… but again, there are always the few that taint the image of the whole.’
Others, however, were angered that the video of the women faced such harsh feedback when the thirst traps posted by their male counterparts don’t get the same.
‘If you’re going to comment on the unprofessionalism of those two females, but you don’t call this out as being unprofessional in uniform, then you’re actually just shaming women,’ wrote user @fit_ishbabe.
Some users made hyperbolic statements that China, where the app was created, had won
Most users deemed the video inappropriate because it showed the female soldiers performing the controversial moves while in uniform despite men posting similar videos
Twitter user: ‘It is disgraceful to the uniform and inappropriate on all levels… but again, there are always the few that taint the image of the whole’
‘If you’re going to comment on the unprofessionalism of those two females, but you don’t call this out as being unprofessional in uniform, then you’re actually just shaming women’
While the Trump administration has made an aggressive play to ban TikTok from the United States for national security reasons, membership in the country has increased.
The Pentagon barred service members from using TikTok in 2019, deeming it a cyber threat, before the Army and Navy both banned use among ranks.
However, a survey from Sandboxx, which connects service members and their supporters, found that nearly 50 per cent of the 436 people surveyed still used TikTok.
’42 percent of respondents say they use TikTok at least once a month, with a quarter (24 percent) saying they use it daily,’ Sandboxx told Military Times.
‘This is despite many branches banning the app’s use on government devices and warning against its use on personal devices.’
But military members would forgo the app if their superiors specifically asked they delete TikTok, according to Shane McCarthy, Sandboxx chief marketing officer.
‘The data clearly shows that no matter how our military members feel about TikTok or its use by civilians, they plan to follow the order of their command,’ said McCarthy.’
As it stands, the military’s ruling on TikTok does not mean that service members cannot use the app in a personal capacity.
Instead it only extends to formal military entities connected to a chain of command or formal military group, said Army Col. Joe Buccino, spokesman for XVIII Airborne Corps.
‘With regard to conduct on TikTok, it’s the same as conduct on any other platform,’ he told the Military Times.
‘The governing document is under regulation 600-20, which is understandably vague on this matter.
‘A good way of thinking about this is if you would not say it in front of formation, you should not say it on social media.’
Some social media users defended the videos saying the soldiers are young
According to the US Army’s social media handbook, service members should always consider themselves representing the military.
‘The U.S. Army defines online conduct as the use of electronic communications in an official or personal capacity that is consistent with U.S. Army Values and standards of conduct,’ the guide says.
‘It is important that all Soldiers know that once they have logged on to a social media platform, they still represent the U.S. Army.
‘Online misconduct is a term that describes unacceptable or improper behavior through the use of technology.’
Yet some have defended the videos, arguing that many of the service members are young people and are posting as such.
‘Young people doing what young people do,’ said Twitter user @Jzoizack_LTC.
‘They answered the call to defend a nation. Pretty heavy stuff, defending a nation. Dancing? What? Are we in 1950s catholic school? But hater gonna hate. Me, good on ua young people, make them uncomfortable.’
‘As a vet this is unprofessional in uniform…but its not a big deal….nothing some super intense PT sessions cannot solve,’ user Jonathon Smith said.
‘They are probably good soldiers just wanting to have fun…so just make them sweat alot of that energy out and they wont have the energy to do this.’
On August 6, the president issued an order that directed the Secretary of Commerce to come up with a list of transactions involving the TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance and its holdings that should be banned after 45 days.
The company plans to sue to block the order.
The social media company is also expected to contest its classification by the White House as a national security threat.
It comes as the company continues talks with the likes of Microsoft over the sale of its US operations.