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Friday, October 1, 2010

Facebook Fratboys Intimidated by the Functioning Breast!

Yes, it must be close to the Breastfeeding Challenge time of year because whenever the focus is put on Breastfeeding you can guarantee that someone somewhere will get offended and start a circus.  This time it's Facebook.... Again.  Strangely, their latest attempts to deride Breastfeeding by deleting pictures of nursing mothers and cancelling accounts of women who have dared to portray breastfeeding as the natural purpose of the human mammary comes on the eve of the release of the Facebook movie  "Social Network".  I personally have NO plans on seeing this movie, but I have to wonder if there will be any mention of Facebooks facist dictatorship that creates arbitrary rules and breaks them when ever they feel like it?

In case you have no idea of what I'm talking about, I'll give a brief outline of the history of the "Facebook and Breastfeeding Fiasco".

Way back in June 2007, Kelli Roman had a picture of her nursing her baby removed from Facebook and was sent a notice that she had posted obscene content and that the they, Facebooks censors, had deleted the offending photo.  In response Kelli started a Facebook group called "Hey Facebook: Breastfeeding is NOT obscene!!" When I joined the group in early July 2007 it had a sparse 1300 members. Not a month later Facebook admins struck again.  I had a photo of me breastfeeding my 2 day old son removed and was sent a carbon copy warning from facebook for posting "obscene" content and another Canadian mother Karen Speed not only had a breastfeeding photo removed ,but her facebook account was completely deleted.  I was interviewed on CTV NewsNet about the "Faceboob" debacle:

Flash forward over a year later, Facebook goes on a rampage of deleting more breastfeeding photos, prompting the creation of M.I.L.C.(Mothers International Lactation Campaign) and the organization of an on-line protest against Facebook's stance on breastfeeding photos. On December 27th, 2008 over 11 500 people participated in the first ever M.I.L.C. event. Participants from around the globe joined the virtual protest of Facebooks discriminatory practice of arbitrarily and randomly removing breastfeeding pictures from member profiles and albums, classifying them as obscene content by posting a breastfeeding image as their profile picture and changing their status line to: "Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!" In addition, a live nurse-in was held at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto CA. Both events caught the attention of media world wide. Many members of the group received warnings and had photos removed during and after the event.

One of those members was breastfeeding and childbirth activist Emma Kwasnica.  Emma not only had pictures deleted but her entire account- including her FB group "Informed Choice- Birth and Beyond"- was tossed out because of the fact that, like all of us, she had dared to post "Obscene and/or pornographic" material on her profile.  Apparently the photo taken of her nursing her two daughters at the 2008 Montreal Breastfeeding Challenge was perfectly fine to be printed in a major Canadian news paper... but not allowed on Facebook.

When Facebook was contacted by various media outlets for their comments, they sent out a carbon copy response to everyone stating:

"We agree that breastfeeding is natural and beautiful and we’re very glad to know that it is so important to some mothers to share this experience with others on Facebook. We take no action on the vast majority of breastfeeding photos because they follow the site’s Terms of Use. Photos containing a fully exposed breast (as defined by showing the nipple or areola) do violate those Terms and may be removed. These policies are designed to ensure Facebook remains a safe, secure and trusted environment for all users, including the many children (over the age of 13) who use the site. The photos we act upon are almost exclusively brought to our attention by other users who complain."
 Time and again Facebook has continued to remove breastfeeding photos from private profiles, with a whimsical whip of the mouse, many times deleting photos that show not even a glimpse of nipple or areola. Luckily through the hard work of Paul Rapaport of TERA, hundreds of these deleted photos have been compiled into a safe on-line location. Now that these beautiful breastfeeding photos have a permanent home they can be viewed by those who wish to see for themselves the ridiculousness of Facebook's censors. How can anyone take their policies seriously when even their own staff can't follow them?  Take a good look and you'll realize that a vast majority of these picture do not show "obscene content" even by Facebooks own twisted standards.

Over a year and  a half after the first M.I.L.C. Facebook event, the original group "Hey Facebook: Breastfeeding is NOT obscene" has grow to almost 260000 members. But Facebook still edits and cuts and deletes peoples profile pictures.  Helen Schwalme of Natural Mothering has been deleted at least twice, Karen Speed has also been deleted several times.  And this week Emma Kwasnica again had a photo removed and her account deleted. Emma writes:
"Unfortunately, misogyny and patriarchy reign here on Facebook. My account gets deleted, and yet all sorts of groups supporting the use of women's bodies uniquely for male sexual pleasure remain. Just do a search for "tits" and see what you come up with, what is allowed to remain while in the meantime, my page --and all the info I provide on a daily basis to women and their families-- gets shut down."
Search on Facebook for "Sexy Girls" and you'll quickly realize that this is an acceptable profile picture by Facebooks standards:

Dani Arnold- 1st pic deleted
But this is not an acceptable profile picture:

This is apparently completely ok to post on Facebook:

..But this is such a horrific picture that facebook feels it would psychologically scar anyone who sees it and therefore it must be deleted.

Absolutely OK

Karen Speed- pic deleted
Absolutely NOT OK

Along with Emma's account, artist Kate Hansen also had a photo and her account deleted.  Kate's artwork is a beautiful look at motherhood and feminine beauty. She has painted many incredible pieces of art that feature mothers nursing their children, pictures that facebook deleted from a group devoted to art and portraits. Today CBC News ran another story about Kate's deletion from Facebook. And it's not just modern artists that Facebook has censored, they have even seen fit to delete classic paintings of the Madonna Mary nursing Jesus, works of art that even the Vatican has endorsed.

"Facebook claims that a visible breastfeeding nipple is obscene and unsafe for children. Its attitude and censorship are not only wrong but harmful. There isn't any evidence for its claim, even without breastfeeding, and even for full nudity. In deleting photos capriciously and carelessly, in total ignorance and arrogance, it is an enthusiastic contributor to intolerance, misogyny, poorer infant health, and the epidemic of body image problems amongst women and girls."
Paul Rapoport, PhD
Member, Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality

Regardless of what the frat boys of Facebook wish to make people believe, Breastfeeding is NOT obscene or pornographic.  Breastfeeding is about a mother nurturing and nourishing her child.  Breastfeeding is not "best", Breastfeeding is Normal. And in Canada breastfeeding is a human Right that is protected by the highest level of the law- Anywhere, Anytime.  The Frat boys obviously didn't get that message though.