Facebook Censors Nude Breastfeeding Photos



Documents recently leaked to Gawker confirm what the breastfeeding community has always suspected. In the leaked “Abuse Standards Violation” document, Facebook employees are specifically directed to delete images of “Mothers breastfeeding without clothes,” and “Naked children…”

Facebook has been widely criticized for its content moderation standards and those who complain are often referred to the vague Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.  According to Gawker, “If users knew exactly what criteria was being used to judge their content, they could hold Facebook to them. It would be clear what Facebook was choosing to censor according to its policies, and what amounts to arbitrary censorship.”

In addition, according to the whistle blower, content management services are outsourced to countries like Turkey, the Philippines, Mexico and India where workers are paid from $1 to $4 an hour. Aside from the ethical questions raised by this arrangement, how could workers from different countries interpret the FB standards consistently?

Internet censorship is a hot topic right now because of the recent controversy over SOPA and PIPA, and as Facebook prepares to go public, the company is being closely scrutinized. “I don’t know whether dictatorship is the right word, but it more or less defies every vestige of shareholder democracy known to man…I don’t think it’s how business should be run.” said Larry Haverty of Gamco Investors Inc. in the San Francisco Chronicle last week.

With these kinds of standards and governance in place, how can the breastfeeding community continue to impact Facebook? Last week thousands of breastfeeding mothers demonstrated in front of Facebook headquarters around the world. Historically, these types of nurse-ins have been effective in bringing an issue to public awareness but they have not been successful in changing the censorship policy of Facebook.

What I wonder about in regards to the FB censorship is how breastfeeding photos are being reported. Though Facebook is a public forum, images are semi-private. You have to be friends with someone to see their photos. Nude breastfeeding photos don’t often appear as someone’s main photo. This means that someone who reports a photo may be befriending and then stalking someone they don’t know. Are voyeurs reporting these photos? Maybe they are the ones who should be reported.

I’m not sure where we go from here, but I know that the breastfeeding community is among many voices challenging Facebook at this time. What do you think?

Are all breastfeeding photos appropriate for Facebook or are some private?

Is there a different standard for an image in a general forum, like Facebook, than for an image in a breastfeeding-friendly forum like Mothering, for example?

What do you think would be the ideal breastfeeding image standard for Facebook?



Peggy O’Mara  (101 Posts)

Peggy O’Mara founded Mothering.com in 1995 and is currently its editor-in chief. She was the editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine from 1980 to 2011. The author of Having a Baby Naturally; Natural Family Living; The Way Back Home; and A Quiet Place, Peggy has lectured and conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League International, and Bioneers. She is the mother of four.

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