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Facebook bans breastfeeding

Facebook bans breastfeedingKaren Speed, like many women around the world, has a Facebook page where she uploads pictures of herself and her three sons. But when this Canadian woman recently tried to log in to her account, she was surprised to find out she had been suspended for inappropriate use.

“I was kind of confused,” said Karen Speed, whose boys are 20 months, four and nine. Soon, she received emails from Facebook warning that she would be banned from the social networking site if she did not remove photographs containing nudity. The site’s administrator removed an offending photo in demonstration—one in which she was breastfeeding her son. Originally, Speed created the page expressly for the purpose of providing nursing support (she does this locally, as well). But to underscore their seriousness, Facebook also deleted her online nursing help and contacts.

Facebook explicitly states that they do not allow pictures that show “nudity, drug use or other obscene content.” They defend their decision by noting that photos of nursing mothers are allowed, as long as they do not contain nudity, which is a violation of the agreement all users “check” when signing up in the first place. In other words, you can see a baby at its mothers breast, as long as you can’t see the breast itself. For what it’s worth, MySpace does the same thing—delete “obscene” breastfeeding shots.

Not surprisingly, Facebook’s decision has drawn a mob of angry moms. In response to Facebook’s stance, and in support of Karen Speed, a new breastfeeding petition group has emerged, called “Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!” At the time I looked at the page, the group had 62,937 members. On the front page of the site, the group’s moderator asks, “What about a baby breastfeeding is obscene?” and requests that Facebook allow all breastfeeding shots. Self-described ‘lactivists‘ have uploaded hundreds of nursing shots.

So far, they haven’t changed any administrator’s mind. In an effort to call attention to their request and to protest what they deem as discrimination, oppression and injustice, the group is planning an “event”. On a new page called “M.I.L.C.” (Mothers International Lactation Campaign), coordinators are planning a full-frontal breastfeeding photo campaign, as well as real life nurse-ins. I suppose they feel that by bombarding Facebook with photos they don’t allow, they will change the site’s policy.

I am a breastfeeding mom. I do support (and occasionally practice) nursing a baby in public. I have a Facebook page with pictures of my kids. My husband has taken a few pictures of me feeding babies. But I never let him take pictures of, nor do I ever intentionally expose, the unlatched nipple. And I wouldn’t upload any of them to the internet, simply because there are some people I don’t want viewing my chest. I think that a site like Facebook, which tries diligently to keep their pages decent, needs to draw a hard line somewhere. They say no exposed breasts—for obvious reasons. If a member reports a violating photograph, the administrators take it down within an hour.

Now, most of use would say nursing shots are a different animal than a drunken shirt-raising shot, but it’s just more realistic for such a huge organization like this to say they don’t have time to make individual decisions. No boobs. I’m OK with that. I don’t really want to see someone else’s breasts, anyway. I don’t think it’s obscene, but it is unnecessary.

I know many of you breastfeed. Would you (or will you) participate in this campaign? Even if you don’t nurse or don’t want to expose yourself, what do you think about Facebook’s policy?


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