Facebook Continues To Yank Breastfeeding Photos

    February 20, 2012
    Josh Wolford

Another day, another set of breastfeeding images removed from Facebook.

This time, the affected group of breastfeeding activists hail from the Respect The Breast Facebook page. The page’s founder, Heather Stultz, told the Huffington Post that in the last few month, 38 breastfeeding photos have been removed from the group’s photo section – 4 in the last week.

A landing page message explains:

If you support PUBLIC breastfeeding and Support mothers who do so, Please Like our page!! We are in Support of breastfeeding mommies everywhere!! feel free to post questions, comments, photos, and links to any good information for new Breastfeeding Mommies!

It goes on to give this warning: “If you think its inappropriate to see a mother feeding her child you also do not belong here because we support it and post pictures daily.” And while the page still have hundreds of breastfeeding photos still up, it’s the 38 removed photos that really frustrate the page owners.

“I’ve got 7,100 fans and they are pretty irate about it,” Stultz said. “We won’t stop until we have a handwritten apology from Mark Zuckerberg.”

She has also begun an online petition to address the issue.

The issue revolves around Facebook’s specific policy toward nudity, especially nudity when it comes to breastfeeding. Facebook says that they are cool with breastfeeding pics, but only in certain conditions where no extra nudity is present (for instance, an exposed breast not being used for breastfeeding). Facebook has made this clear, but until now haven’t really said this much in a response to a particular breastfeeding group’s protests:

Facebook is glad that mothers and their families — including many who work at Facebook — use Facebook to share their parenting experiences, including breastfeeding their children. By uploading photos, joining groups, and engaging with different organizations, these families are able to share and connect on a very important topic, and we are thrilled they are using Facebook to do so.

When it comes to uploaded photos on Facebook, the vast majority of breastfeeding photos comply with our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, which closely mirrors the policy that governs broadcast television, and which places limitations on nudity due to the presence of minors on our site. On some occasions, breastfeeding photos contain nudity — for example an exposed breast that is not being used for feeding — and therefore violate our terms. When such photos are reported to us and are found to violate our policies, the person who posted the photo is contacted, and the photos are removed.

Our policies strive to fit the needs of a diverse community while respecting everyone’s interest in sharing content that is important to them, including experiences related to breastfeeding. It is important to note that any breastfeeding photos that are removed — whether inappropriately or in accordance with our policies — are only done so after being brought to our attention by other Facebook users who report them as violations and subsequently reviewed by Facebook.

Last week, we told you about a content standards manual used by independent content moderators employed by Facebook. It provided a confusing look into Facebook’s content policies, and specifically mentioned breastfeeding photos. Here, they clarify that not only is extra nudity not allowed, but neither is the photo if the “nipple is clearly exposed.”

If the breastfeeding activists being angered by content removal story sounds familiar, it’s because this definitely isn’t the first time something like this has happend (this month). Earlier, one activist organized “nurse-ins” at various Facebook offices around the world to protest the policy. She complained that Facebook was being indiscriminate in the removal of pics and that theyweren’t even playing by their own rules.

I’ve been pretty vocal in my criticism of Facebook’s nudity policies in the past. On this specific issue of breastfeeding, I suggested that they need to lighten up a bit. Those who disagreed argued that Facebook must keep a strict no nudity policy in order to curtail pornography, or other images that could be unsuitable for the young teens on the site. I’ll pose the question to you guys – is it possible for Facebook to lighten up their guidelines on certain types of nudity (breastfeeding, artsy painted bodies, etc.) while still keeping it free of pornography? Let us know what you think.

[Note: The lead image is not one of the removed ones, but it does reside on the Respect The Breast page]