I’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. Once 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.
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. Facebook 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:
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.
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.
REALLY, 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…
And apparently Facebook has no problem with this one either, which is offensive on SO many levels…However, the good folks at Facebook feel the need to remove photos like this….And this…
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