Facebook can’t win for losing today: When the social network isn’t getting ripped for pictures it hasn’t deleted, it’s catching heat for photos it has deleted — specifically, those involving breast-feeding.
The debate over whether or not photos of women breast-feeding their babies should be permitted on the social network is an old one, and it is making its presence felt again, largely through the efforts of Vancouver mother and breast-feeding advocate Emma Kwasnica.
The Tech Chronicles, a San Francisco Chronicle blog, reported that Kwasnica is the organizer of a protest scheduled for today — yes, it’s happening again — during which women will breast-feed their children outside Facebook offices around the world, including its headquarters in Menlo Park, California.
Kwasnica told The Tech Chronicles she has had some 30 breast-feeding photos flagged and removed in her five years on Facebook, and her account has been suspended four times, including once for 30 days, adding:
This is discrimination. There’s no other way to look at it. We’re being treated as pornographers. Breast-feeding moms, especially ones with infants, spend hours a day with their children at their breast. They’re not trying to be sexually explicit. This is just part of their everyday lives.
People share their whole days on Facebook, when they’re eating, where they’re eating, pictures of them feeding their kids spaghetti. We just see this as feeding our children.
It is obvious to me now that Facebook really has lost control of their network, especially when their written policy clearly states that they support the sharing of breast-feeding images, yet they say they cannot control the actions of their employees who keep removing breast-feeding images and who block accounts of the users who post them — usually “in error.” This is exasperating to me.
A Facebook spokeswoman told The Tech Chronicles the removals of the photos were mistakes due to the volume of photos processed by Facebook on a daily basis, adding:
In the course of processing billions of photographs and millions of reports each day, human error does occasionally occur.
And Facebook’s official stance on the issue, as posted under the topic, “Does Facebook allow photos of mothers breast-feeding?” is as follows:
Yes. We agree that breast-feeding is natural and beautiful, and we’re very glad to know that it is important for mothers to share their experiences with others on Facebook. The vast majority of these photos are compliant with our policies, and we will not take action on them.
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. These policies are based on the same standards which apply to television and print media.
It is important to note that photos we act upon are almost exclusively brought to our attention by other users who complain about them being shared on Facebook.