Controversy is brewing between Facebook and women who want the right to post photos of themselves breastfeeding online.
According to Facebook’s terms, the site supports breastfeeding. However, breastfeeding photos posted onto Facebook where the breast is fully exposed and the child is not actively engaged in nursing violate terms and are considered sexually explicit content.
If reported, Facebook’s first response is to delete the pictures and/or block users from accessing their accounts.
The controversy here stems from the fact that breastfeeding in public is a protected right and an exposed breast within the context of breastfeeding is not sexually explicit content. I understand that in our society we are very conditioned to seeing women’s bodies sexualized everywhere we turn, but we need to be able to recognize when something falls outside of this norm – like a woman exposing her breast(s) within the context of feeding her child.
I learned of this issue after seeing one mother in Vancouver, Emma Kwasnica, make headlines with her story. A breastfeeding advocate and instructor, Kwasnica posted pictures on Facebook of herself breastfeeding to help other mothers; they were then deleted by facebook claiming they violated terms.
Kwasnica is calling for facebook to amend its policies and exempt all breastfeeding images from being considered nudity. In addition, she is also calling for a change to the way Facebook responds when photos of breastfeeding women are reported and brought to their attention. They should do an investigation before deleting, not the other way around as is the current practice.
Over 5,000 have joined a Facebook group called FB! Stop harassing Emma Kwasnica over her breastfeeding pics. There, I learned that Facebook has since apologized to Kwasnica saying her photos were removed in error and encouraged her to re-upload them. There was also a conference call set up with Kwasnica and Facebook to discuss policies on breastfeeding. But so far there have been no major changes in policy.
For those who are interested, nurse-in protests are currently being organized at Facebook HQs around the world. See the list here.
Editor’s Note: An organizer from the Nepal Mother Foundation contacted me to let me know that the logo people are using for the Facebook breastfeeding campaign is very similar to their organization’s logo. I did some background research and it looks like both groups created their logo out of the same stock photo. However, I said I would share a link to their organization for readers who are interested in their work.