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 email@example.com) - 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.