Facebook’s War on Nipples

by Anne Smith, IBCLC

BFB FB baby censorshipI’m writing  (Okay, more like ‘ranting’ ) this post so that I can explain why Facebook keeps disabling my  account because they have repeatedly indicated that some  of the posts on my Breastfeeding Basics  page were ‘obscene’. Here’s the picture they got their panties in a wad about this time. It’s a real photograph of a real and very beautiful woman, but I have a feeling that Mark Z. would be shared shitless to tell her to go nurse her baby in a bathroom. BFB Blog banned pic AfricaOnce upon a time,  in the year 2010, I had a kickass Breastfeeding Basics page, with thousands of fans.  Unfortunately, I lost it because Facebook kept disabling  my account  over and over and banning me f0r various periods of time, until  they finally deleted it completely. They said that it violated their TOS by showing “nudity and inappropriate content.” Apparently, Facebook  doesn’t like nursing moms, and they find the very idea of a mother breastfeeding ‘inappropriate’. I say this because many of the pix they delete do not show any breast at all. They do, however, seem to have a huge problem with nipples.
BFB Facebooks war on nipples poster
The Breastfeeding Basics Facebook page  contained pictures of breastfeeding women, and every effort was made show these pictures in the context of answering medical questions related to lactation. There was no prurient intent or pictures that could in any sense be considered pornographic.  In a few months, I distributed a lot of medical information, as well as links to parenting/breastfeeding articles and quotes, funny poems, etc. – all related to parenting or breastfeeding, and no in any way intended to violate Facebook’s  terms of service.

My first warning came right after I started the original Breastfeeding Basics page,  A nursing mom asked me what a breast infection looked like, and I posted a picture of a breast with mastitis. It was definitely graphic, but hardly sexually provocative. EngorgementFacebook  told me that they had deleted an offensive photo (didn’t tell me which one) that violated their Terms of Service,  and warned me that if I posted another ‘obscene’ pic, they might disable or delete my account. The picture of the breast with mastitis was missing, so I  assumed that was the offensive one (and I was okay with that, because it did show a breast). What I had a problem with was that Facebook disabled my account anyway, after they removed the picture, and they didn’t tell me how long the suspension would last.

No one at Facebook  ever responded to my polite inquiries re reinstatement of my account. I explained the situation, and the fact that I was a health professional trying to provide information and support to nursing mothers. I groveled and begged and  apologized for inadvertently violating their Terms of Service, and assured them that I would be careful in the future to not post any material that might be considered offensive. I went through my picture collection and took down any picture that showed even a sliver of nipple or areola, since Facebook seemed to be okay with breasts, but nipples were taboo.

This is the photo that was  considered so terribly ‘offensive’, ‘inappropriate’,  or obscene, that it resulted in Facebook deleting my entire account:

BFB Me Pregnant BF

Seriously, I really did try to be careful, but knew that if Facebook would go after me for the 24 year old picture of me nursing my 2 year old, they would get me for something eventually.  Obviously, they were not abiding by their Terms of Service,  because in the pic, which has been on the Breastfeeding Basics website  article “Nursing During Pregnancy and Tandem Nursing” for over 13 years. In the picture, I  was wearing a sweater (a really tacky one from 1990) and there was absolutely no breast or nipple showing. You really wouldn’t know I was nursing unless you read the caption. It looks like a rather portly woman holding a toddler in her lap.

I managed to keep my page up for another month before Facebook sent me a another warning. This time, they showed me the two pix that they said violated their Terms of Service.  They gave me the option of deleting the pix, and told me that if I didn’t, I ran the risk of having my account disabled or deleted. I deleted the ‘offensive’ pix immediately, but Facebook  disabled my account anyway. Again.

Fast forward another month. This time, Facebook deleted my entire account, without warning. I woke up one morning and it was all gone.  I lost the Breastfeeding Basics page, which if I do say so myself, was awesome. I had thousands of likes, and really enjoyed connecting with the moms who ‘liked’ my page. I not only lost my Breastfeeding Basics page, but my personal account as well with all my friends and family contacts, and all my photo albums. I also lost my animal rescue page. Fullscreen capture 2172012 54057 AM

Fullscreen-capture-2172012-54057-AM

Facebook  has the power to delete any picture or comment that someone finds offensive, and they don’t have to tell you why.  They don’t have a customer service department, and don’t give a damn about giving you the opportunity to defend yourself or politely request that they consider restoring your account. They are judge, jury, and executioner all in one. At least now they tell you what picture they found obscene, or that someone objected to for whatever reason. For example, for absolutely no reason,  Facebook blocked my account because of this puppy picture on my animal rescue page. I’ve looked and looked, but still don’t see any nipples, even puppy ones.

FB Puppy BannedREALLY, Facebook? Instead of picking on pages with babies and puppies, why don’t you pick on somebody doing really bad stuff, like, hmm…maybe the pages with hard core porn, links to sex sites, and pages that encourage cruelty, sadism, hate, and bigotry? And believe me, regardless of what they  says about their Terms of Service, there is plenty of that stuff out there, and it’s easy to find. For example, this image is  fine…

FB Boobs with guns bf blogAnd so is this one…

And apparently Facebook has no problem with this one either, which is offensive on SO many levels…Big boobs fat girlHowever, the good folks at Facebook feel the need to remove photos like this….FBF Banned BF ArtAnd this…BFB baby looking up at mom
I refuse to let the breast busters or the areola police win this one without putting up a fight, especially since all you (or any 10 year old boy) has to do is do a Facebook search for “Boobs”,  “Fun Bags”, “Big Tits”, “Enormous Boobs”, “Gigantic Knockers”…and so on, and you’ll find some stuff that is TRULY obscene and graphic. In fact, some of it is downright disturbing, so make sure the kids aren’t in the room when you do the search.

If I had young kids, I wouldn’t let them near a computer, and certainly not Facebook.  Something is very twisted about this world when beautiful, empowering pictures of women, birth, and breastfeeding are deemed ‘sexually inappropriate’, while this internet porn is just A-OK. It’s not just the fact that Facebook has a strict ‘no nudity’, or even ‘no nipple’ policy. I could understand that. I wouldn’t agree with it as it applies to breastfeeding, but Facebook is a free service, and I really couldn’t complain too much it they were consistent…but they aren’t. It’s their blatant in your face hypocrisy that I have a problem with.

So…After the deletion of my account a couple of years ago, I decided to try again. Facebook frowns upon setting up more than one account, but under the circumstance, I felt that I didn’t have a choice, so shhhh…don’t tell them what I did.

Once again, after a few weeks of setting up the new Breastfeeding Basics page, Facebook has disabled my account, this time for 30 days, but there is no reason to think that they will reinstate it after that time.

After this second attack on breastfeeding photos, I have come to the conclusion that if I have a Facebook page, I not only can’t post pictures of women’s breasts, even in the context of showing the difference between breast cancer and mastitis, but I can’t even post a picture of me with a baby in my lap, apparently because someone out there doesn’t like the IDEA of a woman nursing a toddler, especially if she’s pregnant.

As an IBCLC and health professional, I am being denied the opportunity to inform and educate breastfeeding moms via Facebook. I can’t post pix of what IBC (Inflammatory Breast Cancer) looks like, compared to mastitis, in spite of the fact that it might save the life of one of the billion  members of Facebook.

This is what a breast with mastitis looks like…                                                        And this is a breast with IBC….

The fight against Facebook’s policy of deleting breastfeeding photos has been going on for years.  Unfortunately, Facebook continues to harass nursing moms, deleting photos of them breastfeeding their babies and disabling their accounts.

Nursing mothers are fed up and fighting back. If you support a mother’s right to breastfeed her baby any time, any place, for any reason, here are some ways to fight back. Photos of breastfeeding continue to be removed by Facebook on a daily basis. Action is needed now!

Here are some ways you can help end the madness:

  •  Visit Jodine Chase’s wonderful blog. She’s a passionate advocate for nursing moms, and has covered the topic of Facebook’s censorship policies  in depth: http://jodinesworld.blogspot.com/
  • Stop by and “like” this Facebook pages: FB vs Breastfeeding .
  •  Share, share, share! Already there have been hundreds of news items, blog posts, YouTube videos.  Take posts from the FB vs Breastfeeding page and share them out on your own Facebook page. Share them with your groups, your communities. Every time you share you amplify our messages.
  • Take it into your real life – talk about this with others. Add your voice to the comments on blog posts and other positive coverage.
  • Make the point clear – Facebook must stop harassing, bullying, and intimidating breastfeeding women. Offers of apology and tweaks to their policy are not enough – they must take action and STOP deleting photos and taking down accounts. Every day women are finding photos removed, accounts frozen, and in my case, completely deleted, never to be restored.
  • Join The Badass Breastfeeder, whose page now has over 140,000 likes and is growing strong (apparently there are a lot of Badass Mamas out there!) and Unlatched  on Facebook to support empowering women to NIP and share their beautiful breastfeeding photos.
  • Tell everyone you know to share – use the power of social media to amplify our message! Keep the pressure on and show Facebook how important this issue is to you. More needs to be done and this group is committed to applying continued pressure.  Please take a moment to sign: Petition to Facebook to amend its breastfeeding photo guidelines
  •  Check out Rachelle’s  from Unlatched’s new blog post:  Breastfeeding Professionals Silenced by Facebook Censorship 
  • Stop by and like my new and improved Facebook page –  that is, if Facebook hasn’t blocked it again.

Fortunately, Facebook can’t do a damn thing about what I post on my website, so I can talk about their censorship policies without wondering about what they might do to punish me. Let Facebook know that you’re not gonna take it anymore. You can make a difference.

Anne Smith, a very pissed off IBCLC
Breastfeeding Basics

FB blunt offended

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks

About Anne Smith, IBCLC

Anne Smith, IBCLC
As the mother of six wonderful breastfed children, three perfect breastfed grand babies, and an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) with over twenty-five years experience in lactation counseling, I can offer you professional support, as well as information and advice based on my personal experiences over the years.

12 comments

  1. I see all sorts of pornograpic pictures and porn sites on Facebook, and I had always thought whatever it’s not for me I will leave it alone, until I started noticing the persecution breast feeding pictures and sites are dealing with, and then I got mad, how is “boobs of the day” able to post these sexually explicit pictures while us mothers cannot share the joy of our children eating? So I started to report these sites. Last week I reported two disgusting sites “suck my pink cl*t” and “porn” both of which contained graphic video links, and disgusting pictures. Facebook reviewed both of my reports and decideded they did not violate their terms!!! I could not believe it! How is that ok? How does Facebook justify any of it? Four days later they revised their descison on one but not the other, (which the other one was worse!) I wish more people would understand women have breasts FOR FEEDING OUR CHILDREN! There is nothing sexual about it!

    • Anne Smith, IBCLC

      Facebook just doesn’t care. Period.

      Their review policy is a joke – I have a feeling those porn sites are making money somehow – and their is no customer service, so no way to complain.

      I’ve seen some really sick, stomach churning stuff on FB pages (much more offensive than graphic sex) and I’ve given up even trying to report them. FB isn’t going to do a thing about it.

      Just visit and like and share the pages you enjoy so they’ll show up in your news feed, and try to ignore the others. Share breastfeeding images from other pages and help get the word out there that breastfeeding is normal and healthy and not obscene.

  2. Incredible! This just goes to show that even in our modern time, true equality between the sexes is far off. Breasts are only for sexual pleasure. Forget why they are there in the first place! Next thing you know they are probably going to tell pregnant women to cover up their bellies because it means that they’ve had sex.
    We have to stand together.
    From one proud breastfeeding mom to all the others.

  3. I had this same discussion with a few people yesterday. It is UNBELIEVABLE how society views porn, nudity, strippers, sex, etc. as perfectly “natural and acceptable” BUT a mother using her breasts for the one thing they were REALLY MEANT FOR is “obscene” “disgusting” “disturbing” etc. women need to take back their right to nourish their babies. If society didn’t make breastfeeding seem so “unnatural” perhaps more young ladies would breastfeed. I believe many women choose not to breastfeed solely because they have been exposed to society’s negative view on it and it makes them ashamed to nurse. Well I say why is it inappropriate to feed your child with your breasts but it’s acceptable to have a wet t-shirt contest or flash someone for mardi gras beads? We need to put a stop to this negative portrayal of breastfeeding before society makes it illegal to nurse your child which its already almost to that point, try nursing in public and see what happens if you so much as flash a hint of nipple while the baby gets latched on and nurses. (no, we have to use elaborate nursing covers to “discreetly nurse” so we cannot even look at our baby while we feed them). most places do not offer a room to go in privately and nurse so you have to use the bathroom and sit on a toilet to feed your baby so as not to offend anyone. However, the young lady at the store wearing shorts so short her buttcheeks hang out and a see through shirt that exposes her breasts for all to see is allowed to walk around for all to see and NO ONE seems to mind THAT. BUT attach a baby to those breasts and it is all of a sudden vulgar and disgusting.

  4. Oh…and I remember during baby’s first consultation, I had to breastfeed her in the restaurant where we have eaten lunch. But I was facing my back to the other costumers for we were also seated in one corner. I never had in mind that one or two may think it was disgusting…Well, I just hope. I need to feed my baby wherever, whenever specially when she is hungry.

  5. I seriously can not believe Fb it makes me mad that they would do that this is the best site I’ve reseaved answers about Bf all the other sites sugest $100 dollar pills I knew their had to be another natural way and I am glad I found this site. As a young mother I need all the help I can get on Bf & not just me but I believe every young pregnate woman deserves to learn about how important Bf is and the bond you have with your child my husband and I were 19 wen I got preg and we wanted nothing but the best for our little one and a lot of our pears were unconfortable with us choosing to breastfeed I almost didn’t even want to try to Bf for what our friends comments but my husband supported me the day my daughter was born and i knew it was the right choice. I would love that all teens know how important Breastfeeding is & for them to make the right dessision on what they know than to just take the easy way out. FB should be supporting BF instead of dumb porno crap that’s always popping up.

  6. Seriously. Why do people think breast feeding is so disgusting and shameful? If it wasn’t for the breastfeeding support facebook pages, I would never have been able to breast feed my son. I am proud to say this Sunday I have made it to my 6 month goal of ebf.
    Why is it okay to have up “classy porn” pictures on almost every page? Yet, a mother feeding her child is worthy enough to be banned? I thought Mark was smart enough to know that BREAST fed is the BEST fed.

  7. Apparently Mark Zuckerberg won’t be encouraging his new wife to breastfeed their children, if they have any…
    Luckily, I have a great guy who loves that I am nursing our baby girl, partially cause he doesn’t have to get up in the middle of the night! He also knows the other great benefits to our family, because of the research I’ve done on sites like yours and the La Leche League site. Thanks so much for what you do! (Even if Facebook is stupid about it!). <3

  8. Ok so I agree 100% with you! There are a ton of extremely obscene pages on FB. I ran across one that was all about dead baby jokes! SICK! I’ve seen multiple questionable boob shots, crotch shots etc. Nursing is such a natural process of life and should be respected in all forms. I had been flagged and a picture removed because I had too much cleavage in a shot of me holding my youngest son when he was about a year (he pulled on my shirt) not even the edge of my bra was showing let alone a nipple or areola. I was so mad I sent an email a day to FB customer service until they put my account back on. I don’t know what is wrong with this world and the media is making it so much worse. All the wrong things get the spotlight instead of all the wonderful things that happen in this world from day to day. I wish I had more help and information when I was nursing my two boys (7 and 2). I had a terrible issue with Mastitis with my first son that even after giving up nursing my breasts did not stop hurting or go back to normal for almost six months. With my second son I had issues with him latching. With both my boys unfortunately lasted only a few weeks each. I also wanted to say that I love your comment about not letting young children on the internet. My seven year old is not allowed on the computer especially the internet. I can not imagine how I would explain some of the stuff that he could come across. Children already know way more than they should at his age but the hate, porn, bigotry and everything else is way too much to put into a growing child’s mind. Thank you for staying strong and supporting all Mom’s out there! I will be following you!

  9. I knew that was going to happen with that tribal picture on your Facebook page. FB is ridiculous. The awful things I see people post….but they consider something so natural obscene. It disgusts me everytime I read that a picture of a beautiful breastfeeding mother has been banned. Idk if it will ever stop. It will always be that way, I think. But I support any cause that fights this discrimination.

  10. Hi Anne..
    I’m a “retired” OB-GYN now a Family Health Coach and author. I’m starting a new magazine for IPad called Babies & Breastfeeding. I would love to feature this topic in our first issue.. It needs as much “exposure” as we can give it! I would really appreciate it if you would contact me. Thanks very much
    Theresa Nesbitt MD

  11. Your Comments I find it amazing that fb would allow posts about f**king and not allow posts about breastfeeding! I have seen some pretty raunchy stuff on facebook and usually just stay away from those sites. I have two children and breastfed both of them and wouldn’t have traded it for the world! it is one of the most natural things in the world —– what would have happened if no one had invented bottles!
    Shame on you Facebook!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>