Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Facebook deleted one of our members :(

This morning I was informed that a member of our group has had her account deleted by Facebook for posting a picture I shared on our group wall yesterday.  Apparently she shared it on the wall of another Facebook group, and the assumption is that it got reported.

This is the image: 

I have seen very many comments to the effect that Facebook 'must have' deleted this picture because there was a nipple exposed and visible, even though the baby is nursing in the photo.

Facebook's 'rules' on breastfeeding images state the following: 
'Photos that show a fully exposed breast where the child is not actively engaged in nursing do violate Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. '
But how do we interpret this statement?  There is a child actively engaged in nursing in the photo.  What about a picture - such as this - where a child is actively nursing and there is still an exposed breast (the other one)?  You think I'm being pedantic?  I don't.  In fact, I think the very fact that this statement exists at all shows how 'above the law' Facebook think they are.  You don't need a rule about breastfeeding images - breastfeeding is not dirty, it's not sexual, and it's not against the law.  The statement is clearly open to some interpretation...

What if there's a child feeding at BOTH BREASTS?  Tandem photos should be fine according to Facebook's 'rule'.  Babies actively breastfeeding, no nipples.  All ok.

Have a look here.  Both children actively engaged in breastfeeding.  But Facebook deleted it.  Then they deleted the user who posted it.  Scroll through the site linked above and you will see countless other examples of the same thing happening.

A lot of posts I've read seem to suggest that Facebook would NEVER delete a photo which didn't contravene their own (made up) rules.  Of course they would!  They do it EVERY DAY.
Their statement about their stance on breastfeeding photos is just a smoke screen.  It's a deliberately grey area.  Why so grey?  Well, let's get real.

Facebook may well be complicit in direct discrimination.  Although the law hasn't been fully tested in this area yet, it is illegal for a service provider to discriminate against breastfeeding women* in a public place.  Facebook provides it's users with a number of services, and just because their business (marketplace/ advertising/ direct marketing etc) is conducted on the internet doesn't mean that legislation ceases to apply.  Facebook know that their under-trained (outsourced) staff are deleting breastfeeding pictures daily.  Given the lack of clarity and leadership their staff seem to be operating under, it's hardly a surprise that they delete photos willy-nilly.

What POSSIBLE reason could there be for Facebook's staff deleting this picture other than poor judgement?

You might be thinking to yourself 'surely if it's as easy as direct discrimination then Facebook can just be sued'.  

Who has that sort of money?  Not me.  I doubt any of you have it either - so who is going to pay to take Facebook to court for discrimination?  If you're up for starting a fund and finding a lawyer, then I am!  Perhaps the Equality Commission would be a good place for us to start.

One excuse Facebook gave recently for this ongoing policy of deleting images showing breastfeeding/ female exposed breasts is that they are following industry standards.
'These policies are based on the same standards that apply to television and print media.' they say.
Perhaps someone needs to tell this to Benetton (email - it's their AWARD-WINNING advertisement that Facebook deleted.  The image is from 1989.  That's over TWENTY YEARS AGO.  They are far from the only mainstream advertisers using breastfeeding imagery to sell products. 

In the world of print, this image (taken by Annie Leibovitz) of Jerry Hall breastfeeding appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair and The Australian Magazine. 

Other celebrities have breastfed on the covers mainstream publications, including Kelly Preston, and Angelina Jolie and countless more have been featured inside the magazines and newspapers themselves.  Let's not forget the beautiful front cover image from Italian Vogue which Facebook deemed unsuitable too.  

Mainstream television in the UK and the US has being showing fully exposed female breasts for years for a variety of reasons.

Same standards my big toe.

Facebook haven't got a leg to stand on.  As we say in my part of the world - they're all over the place.  They may say they're following mainstream standards, but they're just NOT.

Bottom line - we shouldn't be tolerating Facebook's behaviour on this - they aren't a law unto themselves.  Why should it be ok for Facebook to say fully exposed male breasts/ chests are allowed, but female ones must get deleted?   If Facebook was a restaurant which openly and repeatedly discriminated against breastfeeding mothers, we'd never go back.  Our right to breastfeed IN PUBLIC (nipple or not!) is protected by law.

We need to challenge this status quo.  Breasts are first and foremost for feeding infants - that is why we grow them.

I was serious about starting that fund.


  1. I will probably be boycotting fb soon. I just can't take this crap I see it all the time. I mean I have REPEATEDLY reported certain photos that ARE on CHILDRENS pages, as well as overly sexual etc and they haven't removed the CHILDREN from fb just SOMETIMES take the pics down. SO WTH???

  2. First, I have absolutely no problem with any breastfeeding picture whatsoever, exposed breast or not. But this statement "They know it's illegal to discriminate against breastfeeding" strikes me as questionable - in what way is it *illegal* to "discriminate against breastfeeding" by removing photos? I've never heard of a law that says that a private company has to display photos it deems inappropriate. Yes, there are laws in many states that say a breastfeeding mother is allowed to nurse anywhere she is otherwise authorized to be, but this is not equivalent. While I find Facebook's policies arbitrary and discriminatory and I don't like them at all, I think it is a step too far to call them illegal. If I am wrong, please educate me on the statutes that make them illegal. Thanks!

  3. In the UK, under the Equality Bill 2010 (and under discrimination laws) it's illegal for a service provider to discriminate against a breastfeeding mother. Anywhere she's entitled to be, she's also entitled to breastfeed her child. Admittedly the laws on the internet are less clear, but to my mind that is only because they've not been tested yet. Facebook provides a service in the UK, the mother who was deleted by Facebook for sharing this picture lives in the UK. If a breastfeeding mother is allowed to be on facebook, then as a service provider to withdraw her services on the grounds that she 'breastfeeds' in their virtual forum may be discrimination. I understand your point, but to my mind simply because the law hasn't yet been tested in this area does not mean it doesn't apply.

  4. I've altered the post slightly to take into consideration your point!

  5. 'If someone believes that they have been discriminated against by an ISSP, and the ISSP is established in the UK, they can bring a claim in the UK courts against the UK-based ISSP even if the person is not in the UK, so long as they are in a European Economic Area (EEA) member state.' FROM:

  6. I would like to see a large-scale campaign to boycott facebook on the grounds of their discrimination against breastfeeding mothers and children. Who's with me?!

  7. I'm going to repeat myself here because I do feel that you deseve to be listened too and my stomach clenches at the fact that you won't be.

    see this is the thing I struggle with with outrage on what facebook allows and what they don't. If we were the customers of facebook then fair enough,, If you are a CUSTOMER then you have rights.. we are not customers.. we're the users and therefore the product of facebook.. they make a profit from us! We're provided with a service free of charge and basically they have the right (whether we agree or not) to say what can be said and what cant'. Just like this page,, our lovely admin makes the rules on what can and can't be posted.. an autism page I post on has the right to lay down the law on vaccinations and autism - in that they are banned. That again is their right.

    Facebook don't care if we are outraged.. we are disposable.. they don't give a toss if we vote with our feet.. there are millions of us.. it's a bit like battery hens making a noise about more leg room in their cages.

    I do understand.. I just think that maybe this campaign is on a hiding to nothing and just wasting energy. :(

  8. As a major lactivist I think all NIP pix are great, but in this case it is just a way to advertise and sell Benetton think they really care?

  9. Actually, Facebook operating in Europe, are subject to Irish law as their European operations are housed in Dublin. This has been discussed a lot recently in Irish media with regard to Data Protection, as again, being based in Ireland, they are answerable to the Irish Data Protection Office (
    So, when it comes to discrimination of breastfeeding women, Irish law is very clear on this. Under the Equal Status Act 2000 it is illegal to treat women differently because they are breastfeeding (i.e. ask them to leave) and under the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003 Section19 protects against harassment and discrimination in a licenced premises.(

    Anyway, my long winded point is, Facebook could be done for discrimination against European users (including the UK) under Irish law, and Irish law is very much behind breastfeeding.

  10. ^^^ Searches for the 'like' button...


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