What Breastfeeding Ban? Defending Facebook

This post certainly won't make me popular but I have been thinking about this for a few weeks now so...here goes.


Facebook Sucks is a theme (complete with web badge) that I have seen just about everywhere I have turned in my favorite corners of the blogosphere and world wide web. 

Facebook Sucks!?!?!?  What?  Huh?  Are you sure? What are you talking about?

"I don't get it."  (Erin shakes her head and wonders aloud)  "I just don't get it."  But then again, I am not one to often find myself getting involved with things that simply feel like they are too dramatic for my middle of the road comfort level.  So, I thought I might take a look and see what the deal is.  And, here is what I have learned. 

However, before I begin, I would like to state the following:

I am a mother.  I breastfed my son, albeit not easily and not for the length of time that I would have preferred.  I have participated in the breastfeeding discussion.  I talked about it at MomSquawk and I am a huge fan of Alex Elliot's Formula Fed and Flexible Parenting and her blog posts on breastfeeding.  I have talked about breastfeeding in my own blog here and here

For the record - I AM PRO BREASTFEEDING...underline, underline, underline, exclamation point, exclamation point, exclamation point.   You are welcome to disagree with my take on this whole Facebook sucks campaign but if you try to infer that I am against breastfeeding...I will delete your comment (on my blog), remove you from my RSS feeder and most likely not return to your blog.  I am PRO BREASTFEEDING and that is that.

Whew!

So, that being said, I truly don't understand the anger at Facebook about their enforcement of the Facebook terms of use regarding uploading and publishing photos on their social networking site.  From what I can tell, this whole bru-ha-ha began with a lady named Karen Speed who lives in Canada and is a self-proclaimed lactivist.  It seems that Karen had a profile and a breastfeeding support group set up on Facebook.  It also seems that Facebook found some of the photos that Karen uploaded and posted violated the Facebook terms of use policy and here is the excerpt of the e-mail Karen received from Facebook regarding her account:

"After reviewing your situation, we have determined you violated our Terms of Use," a Facebook employee wrote in an Aug. 27 e-mail that Speed provided to the newspaper. "Please note, nudity, drug use, or other obscene content is not allowed on the website," the employee wrote, adding: "We will not be able to reactivate your account for any reason."

According to Ms. Speed, this is the offending photo.  It seems that Meredith Chin, a spokeswoman for Facebook, was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald defending Facebook's position by stating:

Facebook spokeswoman Meredith Chin said Facebook - which has more than 200,000 Australian members and 31 million users worldwide - did not prevent mothers from uploading photos of themselves breastfeeding their babies, but it did remove content that was reported as violating Facebook's terms of use.  "Photos containing an exposed breast do violate our Terms and are removed," she said.

I have looked at the "offending photo" and from my perspective, Facebook's reaction to her public statements leads me to believe that this is are not the photo that got Karen kicked off of Facebook.  Because Facebook respects the privacy of their users, they are following their own privacy policy by not releasing the photos they found violated their policy.  It seems to me that Facebook hasn't done anything offensive or worthy of this anger based Facebook Sucks campaign.

As of today, there are more than 26,000 active Facebook members involved in the the "Hey, Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene! Group".  As of today, there are more than 200 breastfeeding related groups on Facebook, complete with breastfeeding pictures.  So, again, I don't get this Facebook Sucks and Facebook hates breastfeeding media campaign that has taken over so much of the virtual world I enjoy.

If you are not familiar with Facebook, here is some background.  Facebook is a very popular social networking site that began in February, 2004 as a means for college students to keep in touch.  In fact, the site started off as an EXCLUSIVE social networking site that was limited to Harvard college students.  Eventually they accepted membership from other Boston area university students and then extended membership to all ivy league schools.  Due to pressure from students at other universities, Facebook eventually offered membership to all college & university students, domestic and international (they were able to verify eligibility by a student's university e-mail address).  It has only been since September, 2006 that Facebook opened membership to all "age eligible" users.  Facebook started as a way for college (and high school) students to keep an on-line "living" yearbook.  Facebook now has more than 34 million active members internationally.

So, back to my point, my point is I have been to Facebook today and I see breastfeeding pictures.  Not pictures showing exposed nipples but certainly pictures of babies nursing from a breast.  And, today I received an invitation today for the recently formed League of Maternal Justice's Great Virtual Breast Fest where a great idea (and post) contains the misleading phrase "the banning of breastfeeding pictures on Facebook" when clearly that is not Facebook's position.

So, I still don't get it.  I am unsure why I am being encouraged to be upset, even angered, by Facebook and their enforcement of their policies.  Facebook allows pictures of breastfeeding.  Facebook does not allow pictures of nipples.  Facebook made a decision that one of their user's, a lactivist named Karen, had crossed the line with one (or more) of her breastfeeding pictures that she posted on their social network site and she got kicked out of the club for breaking their rules.  Why should I be angry about that?

Sounds to me like Karen needs should join another site like Cre8Buzz or CafeMom where she might find a bit more flexibility with her photos uploads.  But I hate to tell you sweetheart, Facebook has 34 million happy members and I don't see (or expect) them to change their obscenity policy because they have pissed off 100,000 or so lactivists internationally.  From a business perspective, the numbers don't support a change.  From a policy standpoint, I applaud them for enforcing their nudity rules.

I believe in realistic expectations and careful, very careful, consideration of language that is used to stir up, incite, incense or rile up a group of people to inspire them to gather together and make a collective difference. 

For me and my efforts, money and mental energy, you can find me supporting MomsRising.org in their fight to make a difference in the lives of families and children with their Children's Healthcare and Childcare initiatives.  You can also find me at Katherine Stone's supporting her Post Partum Progress Blog in an effort to raise awareness and support for the women who suffer from and families affected by Post Partum Depression

And, until there is a cure for Breast Cancer, don't you think that October is a great month to promote and support the efforts of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Pink-Link, Susan G Komen Foundation, National Breast Cancer Foundation and the AMAZING husbands and fathers over at Men Against Breast Cancer?

Until next time, be well!
 
Erin
Expecting Executive
Helping You Manage Life's Details

PS - I would like to encourage the three founders of BlogHer to write about their experiences providing customer satisfaction and policy enforcement at BlogHer. I imagine that this is a very ,very difficult line to walk

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