Breastfeeding moms in the Facebook community

Facebook and I have had a tenuous relationship over the last couple of years.  Sometimes it felt like a downright war but for the past year or so it’s been fairly peaceful.  After the big blowup that received international attention things simmered down and I’d continue posting breastfeeding photos, they’d delete one every month or so, I’d get slapped with a warning or a photo loading suspension, after pressing them FB would say it was deleted in error, I’d post the photo they deleted again, they’d leave me alone for a while, etc.  Then the game stopped entirely and I must confess, I didn’t miss it.

But then this morning this:

 

*sigh*

Ok, someone visited either The Leaky Boob Facebook page or Jessica The Leaky Boob Facebook page and were shocked to discover breastfeeding photos there.  Either out of wanting to protect me from my own indecent exposure, spare my baby some potential future embarrassment, or because they just found the “nudity” offensive, they reported my photo.

I clicked continue which led to this page:


I continued to the community standards which look like this:

 

I scrolled down to find the section that would address what exactly I did that violated their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and found this:

Huh, that’s strange.  According to this statement it actually looks like the person that reported my photo AND Facebook violated the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, not me.  Which makes me wonder, did the person (or people) that reported this image also get a warning?  Since they clearly violated the community standards and essentially harrassed me when I was completely within my rights as outlined in Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and I clearly did not, did they receive a virtual reprimand for their actions?

Since I suspect I already know I’ll receive the generic apology FB offers anyone that calls them out on their inconsistency and will be told that my image was removed “in error” I’ll go ahead and put it back up.  Since they didn’t mean to remove it and all.

Also, it’s worth noting that according to this statement there is nothing about what exactly is showing, nothing about nipples, areola, or anything else.  Just that FB respects people’s right to share content of personal importance and includes family photos of a child breastfeeding.  So it’s not about the nipple or areola, it does require that the child be actively engaged at the breast, a policy I find ridiculous but even according to their own policy, the photo they removed was within compliance.

A few points

Why  share breastfeeding photos on FB?  Some may feel it’s too private to share, I don’t.  In fact, I believe it’s crucial to share breastfeeding photos.  Gone are the days where breastfeeding is seen in the day in and day out living of our lives in a community, replaced instead with virtual communities found on Facebook, forums, and other social media platforms.  Social media and virtual communities need to be as multidimensional as the physical community or we lose ourselves as a society, relating to each other as a slick collection of data without the human and biological component that makes us alive.  We need to see breastfeeding in real life and in the virtual world that many of us relate in as our community.  This photo may seem obscene to some but to others it was inspiring and encouraging, leading some to even learn something about breastfeeding.

Facebook can do what it wants, you don’t have to use it.  True, FB can and true, I don’t have to use it.  But I know they want me to and I know that their advertisers want me to.  I am a part of their market and as such I am going to let them know what I think of their service including when it’s just not working for me.  Obviously they care, in the past 2 years they’ve changed their public stance on breastfeeding to include the statement above.  Which now means they need to keep their own standards.  If I were them, I’d want to know when my company was violating it’s very own terms.  Being quite and just taking whatever a company does because they can do what they want means the company doesn’t have the opportunity to improve.  Additionally, that would never fly in discriminating against someone because of their skin color, their sexual orientation, or just about anything else.

Children could see it, FB is just protecting the younger users.  My personal feelings about children being on Facebook aside, my personal belief about children actually needing to see images of breastfeeding and women in the physical world breastfeeding aside; the reality is Facebook has clearly stated that these images are acceptable within the community standards.  Which means if a parent doesn’t want their child to see such images, the parent should not permit their child to be on Facebook and when they do allow their child to be there, they have agreed to these very community standards that permit these images.

Facebook is protecting you, they don’t want someone to use your image for inappropriate reasons.  Hi, I am an adult.  I am capable of making the decision to share my image for myself and as the mother of my child, I bear that responsibility as well.  It is insulting to have someone feel they need to protect me from the decision I make.  I do not need a savior protecting me from what they deem are stupid and irresponsible decisions.  Not to mention those pesky community standards that say I have the right to share such photos.

It’s not Facebook, they automatically delete images that other people flag, it’s the people reporting that are the problem.  Again, true, at least partially true.  People reporting these images are part of the problem.  Hopefully some day they won’t see anything in an image like this that they deem requires reporting but until then, FB has the responsibility to enforce their own terms and standards.  Do they really want us to believe they are helplessly at the mercy of their users flagging habits?  It has also recently come to light that FB does in fact employ a team to review flagged material and has standards those reviewing the content are to follow.  So it’s not an automatic response to any flagging or certain number of reports, it is deliberately removed and by someone that is supposed to be following FB’s own community standards.  (Wonder how the whole reporting thing works?  This guide explains it with a handy little graphic to break it down.)

Why does it matter?  I’m one user out of millions traveling Facebooks roads of community, networking and connecting with old friends and making new ones.  Along the way I’m sharing my life with those people and they share their lives with me.  Which is cool and I love Facebook for that.  It matters how they facilitate the community because that’s the responsibility Facebook took upon itself and it isn’t to be treated lightly.  It matters because FB is selling my attention to advertisers that pay high prices to get their brand in front of me and in front of you; Facebook is not as free as some would like to believe.  You DO pay a price to be there and YOU are the commodity FB sells to advertisers.  It matters because these are people we are talking about, not some random images.  When my photo is removed I am confident enough that it doesn’t rattle me.  Additionally, I have a platform to voice my concerns and put some pressure on FB regarding their responsibility to their users.  But what about the mom that shares an image celebrating her breastfeeding, her family, her children, and Facebook removes it and she does get rattled?  It could cause her to call into question if what she is doing is somehow wrong.  That if images of breastfeeding are inappropriate and not fit for her community to see, is it inappropriate for her child to breastfeed?  If she’s struggling and looking for her community for support but these images aren’t permitted, how is she going to work out that there can be a wide variety of normal in breastfeeding baby’s latches or any other variety of breastfeeding related questions?  How is she going to know that she’s not alone with how her little one behaves at the breast?  How else are moms going to get over the emphasis on the sexual nature of female breasts to just feed her baby when her very community shames and harasses her for sharing these images?  The message that is being sent is that you can have community, you can be marketed to within that community, but your personal experience with breastfeeding is shameful and not welcome in the community.  Which ultimately means the breastfeeding mother is not welcome in the community.

The ones that need to receive an unwelcoming response are those reporting these images.  People need to stop reporting these images but that’s not going to cease until Facebook is willing to actually enforce consequences for false reporting of images that actually do adhere to FB’s community standards and these consequences need to be at least as severe and shaming as those whose images are deleted have experienced.  That’s how change is going to take place and that responsibility lies with Facebook.

 

Facebook, figure it out.  Take a stand.  Grow up and put your actions where your money and your mouth is.

Facebook, unwaveringly welcome breastfeeding moms into the community.

 

You can find more information about the issues with Facebook and breastfeeding including how they police content and respond to reports, attempts at communicating with Facebook regarding this issue, and any new developments here.

 

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Comments

  1. The photo that was removed was not nudity. It was a breast feeding mother showing a proper latch to help other breast feeding mothers by seeing what a good latch is supposed to look like. It’s educational.

    • Thats crazy facebook has a problem with breastfeeding pictures nothings showing in the picture. I agree Alicia that is a great latch an for 1st time BFding moms that would really help I was lost when I tryed BFding my 1st child I gave up after the 1st week these FB pages are the reason I have had the saport I needed to keep breastfeeding my now 2 month old. But FB wont get involved with a teen mom bashing FB page where they encourage people to run childeren over with cars or throw preganant ladies down a flight of stairs.

      • Uh ….. what??? Encouraging people to run children over with cars or throw pregnant ladies down stairs???

  2. You dear are amazing, and offer many valid points. I never cared about things like this either way before, even while BF my sons, but my daughter has changed me and I absolutely love being able to see your photos. Not because it provides some sexual pleasure, or anything of that nature, but simply because its beautiful and natural, and something I can relate to and learn from 🙂

    • Vanessa says:

      I have seen porn on FB women giving oral on FB why are those still on FB realy a picture of something beautiful a baby nurseing is being delete.
      I love your response to all the questions. Also Childeren should not have a FB or Myspace ect… And more childeren should know that women have breasts to feed their babys. I have many times had friends childeren or friends friends childeren say to me why is you baby sucking on your boob. I simply tell them that’s how I feed my baby, I was giving boobs to feed my babys. I wish more people would stop making our breast out to be a sexual thing. You do look at a cows uters and say wow thats hot.

      Sorry got me going.

      Anyways I find the photo to be very encouraging thank you

  3. So a women feeding her baby is offensive, yet you have pictures of women with there boobs hanging out and that is exceptable???? Our society is so f-ed up it isnt funny! Feeding a child by breast is the most natural way for a baby to eat!!! It is offensive to see a baby on a boob but it isnt offensive when you have a women wearing a skanky outfit?!??! Get real and face the reality of the situation. It is a sweet picture of a baby nursing. If you dont want to see it dont look. You dont see me complaing when I see skanky pictures that I find inappropriate.

    • Sorry about the above rant! I just get so upset when people get goofy about a women feeding her baby but are ok with people dressing in skanky clothes.
      I find this picture you posted beautiful. Your baby looks so happy and relaxed with you 🙂 I hope they let you put your picture back up, because it is wrong that they made you take it down!

  4. Well said, I had my facebook deleted for almost two months by fb staff because someone must have flagged my breastfeeding photos. This was almost two years ago, and I didn’t have any clue how to contact facebook and ask what went wrong, and when I finally emailed them asking how I violated my page was reactivated with ALL BREASTFEEDING PHOTOS REMOVED. I’m so glad there are people out there willing to speak out for me and for others that aren’t as confident in their actions/rights. Thank you.

  5. Andrea Ward says:

    Ridiculous! Keep sharing….I think it is great that you are raising awareness….hopefully more ppl we see BFing for what it is….a natural way to feed our babies.

  6. I agree with you 100% Jessica. I’ve always felt there is way too much nudity on facebook. With that said, I mean girls in thongs and an arm covering their nipples. They are going for the sexuality factor, not the support of breastfeeding. Too many people have sexualized the breasts from what they really are, a source of food for newborns, infants, and toddlers. I am sorry this is happening to you, but at the same time…I don’t know if anyone else could handle it the way you do. ;0) You are an awesome person to look up to for BFing. I’m glad I found you!

  7. I don’t know if it’s just my computer or what, but none of the photos appeared on this; it’s the typical box with a red “X” in the center. Just thought I would let you know.

    As to the point at hand, it’s complete BS and I hope that by the time our children are grown this stupidity will have come to pass and breastfeeding will be considered normal and natural again.

    • Jessica, you can actually set your computer to block out anything that it considers nudity (it is based on the number of skin-colored pixels or something). I’m not sure how to change it because my husband did it for me. I was getting the same red X and had no idea why. HTH! =)

  8. Qadriyya Prout says:

    I just love you! I have to say that first. A friend of mine turned me on to you when I was struggling for support with weaning and could find little, like I’m not supposed to stop or something. Mothering Mag was a flat zero on this subject. There is a myriad of nursing support options, then weaning support is absent. I have had one or 2 kids on one or 2 boobs for eleven years. The whole hoopla around boobs and nursing is so ridiculous and we both know it. But as far as FB goes, I love the connection and resources it gives me , but lets face it, it is a sell out and the *owner* a @#%**! What CAN we do to effect change in this situation? How are petitions to FB done and dealt with? Why can there be pit bull fighting pages while retarded children and nursing get deleted? Google + isn’t much better and there was a new one trying to start, but they had some weird elements that turned me off.

  9. Thank God for women like you who give breastfeeding mothers a voice that would otherwise be unheard! I can’t tell you how much resistance I’ve gotten, how many negative remarks, how many completely uneducated, brainwashed comments I’ve had to endure because of my decision to do what comes naturally–to nurse my child. It is discouraging and detrimental to nursing mothers and their relationship with their infants when society vilifies us for loving our children enough to give them what is created specifically for them. I can’t tell you how difficult it was to get my latch right soon after my daughter was born. It didn’t help that my family used every opportunity possible to deter me from my choice to nurse her. There were many tears shed, both mine and hers! But the photos you posted showing a proper latch were a God-send for me in the early days. Not only are they natural, and beautiful, but they are practical and helpful as well. You helped get us through some of our toughest days when everyone else was shunning us. I am forever grateful for your bravery and desire to stand up for what is right. Keep taking a stand. We are standing right behind you! <3

  10. Jessica says:

    I think that the fact that they took off your pictures just shows how messed up our society is…There are plenty of girls, not even women, showing so much skin and doing it provocatively. As a nanny, I have seen many children “discover” a woman breastfeeding her child and ask me what was going on. I told them that the mommy was feeding her baby “mama milk”….and the reaction 9/10 times was…”okay”. And we moved on and went on playing. If you don’t want your child exposed to that, then don’t let them search the internet without parental supervision. I just don’t understand some people’s close-mindedness. I appreciate your posts and your Facebook page and the support you give to so many. Keep fighting against this discrimination. Many times the right thing is not the easy thing.

  11. Paige Fulford says:

    I applaud you Jessica! I agree that FB has their priorities mixed. They don’t block the truly offensive pictures because they want to please the masses. I have learned so much from joining your community, and I’m so blessed to have had this chance. I’m praying for strength for you in your struggle with FB, and I support you 100%

  12. Jennifer says:

    Get over it facebook. I’ve seen far more cleavage/boobage shots on teeny bopper girls profile pic’s than this. Do you harass them? I don’t think so. The is a mother showing what a proper latch looks like…..I have similar pic’s in books that I have on the topic of breastfeeding. People are using books less and less and turning to the internet for education- and it’s easier to show a pic of a proper latch than try to explain it. That it’s plain and simple. Would you be offended by a picture of a calf nursing on it’s momma? How is this any different? Not that Jessica is a cow!!! But she’s feeding her baby!!! I’m thinking there are far greater issues here….Did your mother not breastfeed you? Are you jealous? Get real.

  13. Dawn Gooden says:

    I have never posted any pictures of me breastfeeding my son, and never really thought to do so, but I would never criticize someone if that was their choice. It’s not porno, and certainly not any indecent exposure…as one commenter mentioned it’s “educational” for those mothers who are new at the whole nursing thing, and need to see another mom doing it so they can practice a proper latch themselves with their own child(ren).

    It really is shameful for Facebook to disregard their own policies, and they really need to be called out on it. It’s not only bad customer service, but bad business overall. If they cannot abide by their own rules then they should not have any at all!

    I really hope that you can get the attention of Facebook staff so they understand their actions are premature, and not well thought out. Also, perhaps to keep others from flagging your images you could put a tag with the Facebook guideline that allows your images to be displayed.

    I hope that one day their could be a stop to this nonsense. I have seen too many of my friends hurt because they want to share their special moments with their friends and family, and end up getting burned for it. It’s just unfair. =/ Nursing moms really need a legal advocate or something. We just don’t have the legal support or even emotional support that we require. I hope one day that can change.

  14. Why anyone who visits one of your pages would report the above pic is beyond me and they need to get a grip. Either they’re a complete ignoramus as to what you’re all about or have done it out of spite.

  15. Jessica,
    This is beautifully written and brilliantly constructed. You are a women of strong conviction, intelligence and beauty. I am so grateful for your blog, and both of your facebook pages. Please continue to fight for what you and so many of us mamas believe in. I need you! We need you!
    Love and blessings from a Leaky from Wisconsin who can’t live without these support groups!
    ~Maggie

  16. Belinda says:

    I totally agree with all Jessica’s points. Society has made our boobies into something sexual and then gets offended when they are used for what they are designed for. Because of how society is today, with families all moved away from each other, smaller families and a lack of community, girls (and others) are not seeing people nursing their baby and it is almost the norm not to breastfeed. While at the park with my 4 boys the other day, my 8 month old wanted a feed so I fed him and as it was so cold, I was using a light blanket to keep the wind off us, I dont normally cover up when feeding. A girl of about 7 who was at the park with her 4 younger siblings, came over, looked at me and asked what I was doing. I told her my baby was hungry and I was giving him a drink. She then asked where the bottle was. I had to explain that I didnt feed my baby from a bottle, just from my boobie. She then told me that all her brothers and sisters had only ever had the bottle. A little while after, an elderly man who was walking home from doing some shopping came past and sat down for a rest. He then went on to say “how lovely it was to see a mum breastfeeding as so many of the young mums dont”. He went on to say that he and his wife had had 11 children and that he had just loved the sight of seeing her nurse all their children.

    The only way we as a society can get back to having breastfeeding as the norm is to show images of our boobies being used for what they were designed for.

  17. miranda says:

    i dont understand the “what if a child sees it” argument. what do those people tell their children breasts are for, and how do they answer questions about how and why boys and girls are different to their children?? my son knows girls have boobies because if they become mommies thats how babies eat. makes perfect sense to him (hes 4) and is the truth!

  18. Alot of women aswered to your request and sent/posted bf pictures( me being one of them). Did anyone get a message about those?

    Breastfeeding is so natural. I rather see pics of mother and child then girls in panties and bras. What is the big deal?

  19. Hello ignorant people,
    Breastfeeding is a natural thing, so get over yourselves.
    To the mothers providing the best for their children,
    We can not give in to this nonsense. Keep posting pictures not only of the bonds we have formed with our children, but also as a way to give hope and teach those struggling with breastfeeding.

  20. What about the ads that are on the side of my newsfeed, that are made to look like FB messages, with skanky girls with their boobs and butt hanging out of their skimpy clothes? I am highly offended by them, but don’t see any way of flagging them. I have to hide them from my children who are peeking at the computer behind me. My children see me bfing their baby sister daily and I am not afraid of them seeing other women use their breasts for which God intended them. I agree with you that FB needs to pick their stance, grow up, and stick with it!

  21. Cathy Wendler says:

    Ironically–the advertisement to the right of your post shows a breastfeeding baby! $$ talks.
    I’m thinking of starting my own page, the dried up boob.

  22. Anne-Marie Quinn says:

    What a beautiful photo! I can’t believe that breastfeeding a baby creates so much controversy. Honestly, that is what breasts were made for, to produce milk for children, not for a play thing for men, (or women). People need to grow up and see that it is a child having a feed. No wonder why so many women struggle with breastfeeding if woman get acused of being ‘sexual’ and can’t even look at photos online on how their baby should be attaching properly. If people have a problem with it, then don’t bloody look! Plain and simple. More attention should be paid to the fact that their mind is in the gutter if a photo like that turns them on.

  23. YOU GO GIRL!!! Just keep on posting them (we know you will anyway 🙂 but those mothers that appreciate your educational photos, far outweigh the questionable people that feel the need to visit TLB page just to cause trouble by ‘seeking out’ pictures of a woman’s exposed breast. I recently saw a picture of a breastfeeding bub that read ” dont think of it as a mother’s right to breastfeed, think of it as a baby’s right to eat”…. If only everyone thought of it this way. THANK YOU Jessica, for being the powerful and thoughtful woman that you are and for sharing your beautiful, nurturing and educational photos of you and your beautiful bub. And finally, for all the trouble makers…..a word of warning. If you see a facebook page entitled “The Leaky B@@b”, chances are it has pictures of exactly that! So if you need me to break it down a little further remember, just as it is a mothers right to feed her child and a baby’s right to eat, it is YOUR right NOT to look!!! Leave TLB and all it’s breastfeeding mothers alone!

    We love you Jessica!

  24. Blusteryweather says:

    As a retired Midwife, I can only say, carry on, this Photograph is beautiful. Showing a baby feeding and to boot a really good one! I have viewed far, far worse Pictures which have turned my stomach, including two men having oral sex, now that, is PORNOGRAPHY which I personally deleted from my page.

    Breastfeeding is NATURAL, is life giving and HUMAN.

    As, one respondent said ‘ Grow up’ Facebook. Must be a man!

  25. This is so worrisome since so many mama’s have a fragile relationship with breastfeeding for countless reasons but one of the common ones is that many women don’t see breastfeeding within their family, circle of friends or the public.

    The removing of images and these conversations may be part of the undoing of a breastfeeding relationship that was initiated because the mama wanted to do this much to the dismay of others around her. A hidden part of her may feel like breastfeeding is shameful and she may stop before she has found her community or enough confidence in her breastfeeding skills. I find this so heartbreaking. What can we do?

  26. I so agree with everything said here main blog and comments alike. FB has gotten outrageous, with many things. It is very disgusting the amount of prejudice towards breastfeeding however. When I first joined FB in 2010 I was under the impression of an equal opinion social network, where one could share thoughts and moments that meant something to that person. Of course as with everything there are guidelines to what one can and can’t do. But they have started to go back on their on policies and deleteing many things, not just BFing pictures. Still true that one of the most beautiful and natural thing on planet earth is still taking the biggest ridicule.