Why take and share breastfeeding photos?

by Jessica Martin-Weber
why women share breastfeeding photos

Photo credit: Cleo Photography

What is the deal with all those breastfeeding photos moms are doing?  Breastfeeding selfies, professional photo sessions, family snapshots, they’re showing up on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, even birth announcements and Christmas cards, and hanging on walls.  This hasn’t always been a thing, has it?  (Check out these and these historic photos that show it isn’t quite as new as you may think.)  When TLB was kicked off Facebook in 2011, allegedly for posting breastfeeding photos, I was asked frequently why post breastfeeding photos in the first place.  What is the point, they wondered, why do women feel the need to share such an intimate moment with the world?  I have been patiently explaining this phenomenon for years, sharing blog posts like this one from Annie at PhD in Parenting, this one from sons & daughters photography,  and personal stories as to why and content to leave it at that.

Still, comments on websites, social media threads, and some times in person continue to come in comparing these photos to sharing an image of someone taking a dump, calling the women posting them “attention whores”, and sometimes even accusing them of sexual abuse.  The reasons why these people may be uncomfortable seeing breastfeeding totally aside (and here are 9 potential reasons), it’s obvious they don’t understand why this would be important.

Over the years I’ve seen the power of breastfeeding photos being shared.  Much like images of other aspects of every day life, seeing breastfeeding photos reminds us of the importance of the mundane in our daily lives.  There are more reasons than I can list, but there are real reasons none the less.

Sharing breastfeeding images is important in offering support.  Many women haven’t seen breastfeeding or have only seen it briefly.  Seeing breastfeeding and hearing the breastfeeding stories of other women supports women where they are in their journey and gives them the space to ask questions and know they aren’t alone.

Sharing breastfeeding images is important in offering information and options.  For some women, breastfeeding is as natural as breathing, everything just works.  Others encounter difficulties.  Seeing how another woman navigates the obstacles she experiences in breastfeeding, such as when Jenna shared an image of feeding her daughter with a supplemental nursing system, mothers who had never heard of such a thing suddenly had a new option.

Sharing breastfeeding images is important in offering community.  Because breastfeeding has been replaced in some cases with alternative feeding methods, some breastfeeding mothers find themselves feeling isolated.  Thanks to the global community now accessible via the internet, mothers can connect with others that can relate to their journey.  While many are willing to walk alone, it is comforting to know you don’t have to.  Sharing the visual builds a community built on more than words.

Sharing breastfeeding images is important in offering encouragement.   When Serena Tremblay shared her photo of breastfeeding in the ICU with the help of a nurse, she never imagined how it would touch and reach so many with encouragement and inspiration.  But that’s exactly what her photo did.

Sharing breastfeeding images is important in offering recognition.  It’s not for attention, the sharing is more about connection and celebration.  But when a woman shares her breastfeeding journey through images, she is recognizing (and helping others recognize for themselves) this very important aspect of her life.  She does it day in and day out, it consumes much of her time, and sometimes it can feel quite invisible.  Or worse, shameful.  Recognizing the time and commitment breastfeeding requires can be a reminder of why it’s all worth it.

Sharing breastfeeding images is important in offering normalization.  More times than I can count people have written in to say that before they joined The Leaky Boob community they thought breastfeeding was gross and creepy.  They didn’t want to see it because they thought it was like watching sex.  But then they saw it and learned that it wasn’t that at all, in fact, it was oddly normal.  Then there are the mothers that discovered they weren’t freaks for continuing to breastfeed past the first 12 months when they discovered there are many others like them.

Sharing breastfeeding images is important in rehumanizing.  I know, I know, that’s not really a word.  But the objectification of women has reached such high levels that unless a woman is airbrushed, painted, surgically altered, pushed up/in, and posed, she isn’t seen as being a woman.  A woman’s worth is almost entirely wrapped up in her looks.  Women are barely seen as human or at least, aren’t allowed to be human.  Images of woman that aren’t airbrushed, painted, surgically altered, pushed up/in, and posed remind all of us what living, breathing, human woman really look like.  Breastfeeding women remind us that a woman’s body is for her to use as she pleases and her worth not dictated by how sexually attractive she is.

Sharing breastfeeding images is important in celebrating.  Parenting is hard work and much of it goes unnoticed and under appreciated.  Celebrating the milestones and goals reached, be they breastfeeding, potty learning, educational, or any other important aspect of parenting, is energizing.  Celebrating them with others even more so.

Leilani and her daughter Ava featured in the photo at the top of this post, understands this, which is why Leilani sent this beautiful photo in with her story:

I made the decision to try breastfeeding while I was still pregnant. I read Ina May’s guide to breastfeeding (religiously), and it gave me the confidence I needed during that very first time Ava latched on. Knowing that I was capable of producing the best nutrition for my child is what inspired me to nurse. There were a handful of bumps in the road during this past year of breastfeeding, but I’m proud to say, we surpassed them. My daughter had jaundice (pretty bad) her first week of life. Due to an incompatible blood type between her and I, the doctors encouraged me to supplement, in order for her jaundice to go away faster. I refused, and as scary as it was, the jaundice went away, and she didn’t need one drop of supplement to assist. I also thought I needed a pump and bottles to nurse more effectively. Turns out that the pump caused my supply to dwindle, and I forced to deal with a baby that wasn’t getting the correct amount of milk she needed. Rather than giving up or supplementing, I was patient and nursed her as often as she’d allow. My supply finally was back to normal. Between those hurdles and moving cross-country TWICE in two months (military family), I am proud to say that Ava at (almost) thirteen months is still nursing and the bond we share is something even more special than I imagined.

 

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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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Baby Explains- Normal Newborn Behavior

By Diana Cassar-Uhl, IBCLC 

 

Dear Mommy,

Thank you so much for breastfeeding me!  You probably already know that your milk is designed especially for me, and is better than anything else you could feed me.

I know that right now, you feel like your friends who aren’t breastfeeding their babies seem to have an easier time of things.  Those other babies sleep soundly and longer between feedings, they drink so much, and they don’t fuss to eat all the time like I do!  I can tell you’re getting a little bit frustrated, and I hear all the advice you’re getting … my grandma says you weren’t breastfed and you turned out just fine, my daddy says he feels like he can’t do anything to soothe me, and that lady with the cold hands that you call “doctor” gave you a can of something that she says will help me grow faster.  You’re tired and frustrated because taking care of me just seems too hard, but please mommy, before you give up this yummy breastfeeding thing, let me explain some of my behavior to you.  It might help you feel better.

First, if you and I were separated after I was born, for any reason (maybe it was hospital protocol that I be left under a warmer, maybe you were recovering from surgery), I’ve got some catching up to do, because I probably lost more weight than my friends who got to stay close to their mommies.  It’s OK … I’m really good at letting you know when I need some more calories, but it’s important that you let me breastfeed lots and lots, even if my grandma says “he just ate!!”  In my first few days, the nurses at the hospital might tell you I’m hungry and your body can’t make enough milk for me … but mommy, that colostrum from your breasts is some awesome stuff!  It’s packed with protein, which binds to any bilirubin in my body (elevated bilirubin causes jaundice in more than half of newborns) so I can poop it on out.  It’s also a great laxative, which makes it easy for me to get all that black, tarry meconium out of me and we can move on to the seedy, yellow-brown poops that are much easier to clean off my sweet tushie.  Now, the colostrum is really thick and sticky, and I’m so small and still figuring out how to move my tongue, and we’re both still trying to get comfortable together, so it might take me 20 minutes or longer to suck out just ONE TEASPOON (5-7 mL) of that liquid gold.

But it’s OK, mommy!  You know, there is really nowhere I’d rather be than in your arms, hearing your sweet voice and smelling you  — even though you haven’t had a shower since before I was born, you’re just delicious to me.  And something else you should know about me … even though I have a really cute “Buddha belly” that looks all chubby, the capacity of my stomach on the day I’m born is just 5-7 milliliters – that’s the size of a small marble!  You’re the smartest woman in my whole world, so I know you see the connection here!  The amount of colostrum in your breast is exactly the capacity of my tummy!  My stomach walls on my first day of life are very rigid and won’t stretch; this is why, if anyone tries to feed me with a bottle, I’m going to spit most of it back up again, even though I eagerly suck at it.  See, mommy, I only have two ways to send and receive information from my brand-new world – I can cry, and I can suck.  I can’t see much, and all these sounds are so much louder than when I was inside you, and I can use my hands to help me orient myself on your breast, but crying and sucking are pretty much how I make sense of everything.

From the Heart Photography – Tiffany Hileman

I know it seems really confusing, mommy, that I would want to suck and suck and suck even though my tummy is full.  When I suck, lots of great things happen for both of us.  I keep my own digestion moving by triggering the involuntary digestive muscles in peristalsis – moving the contents of my stomach along because I’m still moving my mouth and tongue, which are the beginning of my digestive tract.  When you let me do all this suckling at your breast, I can very easily regulate how I suck, depending on why I’m sucking at any given moment.  You can probably feel when I’m suckling nutritively and swallowing lots of milk, and when I’m kind of relaxed about it, feeding sort of like I’m savoring a bowl of ice cream … you know how sometimes, you scrape just a tiny bit onto your spoon, because you want it to last a long time?  To me, you’re better than ice cream!  But on a bottle, it’s impossible for me to suck and not get whatever’s in there, and that’s confusing to me, so I might keep sucking because that’s what my instinct is telling me to do, or I might realize my tummy hurts (because even on day 10, my stomach capacity is only a ping pong ball) and I’ll cry and cry because all I really know is crying and sucking!

A word about these instincts I feel … I really can’t help it, mommy, that I want to suckle so much.  It’s just how I came out, and there doesn’t seem to be much that I can do about it.  Please believe me, I’m not trying to trick you!  In a few weeks, this need lets up a tiny bit, but for now, suckling is my M.O.  But, do you want to know something really cool?  I’m not the only one who benefits!  When I suckle at your breast in these early days, your body actually activates prolactin receptors!  Isn’t that amazing?  In my first two weeks, the higher I make your prolactin levels go (my suckling triggers a prolactin surge in your body), the more of these receptors get activated in your breasts, and the higher your potential milk production will be for as long as you choose to breastfeed me.  That’s one reason your lactation consultant tells you to wait on introducing that bottle or that binky– this prolactin receptor thing only happens for the first 10-14 days.  After that, the prolatcin surges when I breastfeed are much smaller, so the more receptors there are to gobble up what prolactin is there, the more easily you’ll make all the milk I need.

Besides prolactin, there’s oxytocin, another hormone I activate when I am at your breast.  Oxytocin is part of what makes you so addicted to me!  It’s “the love hormone” and it helps you feel relaxed and content when we’re breastfeeding.  Go ahead, mommy, exhale and relax!  It’s OK!  Oxytocin release is triggered by nipple stimulation, not necessarily milk removal (though when things are going well, my stimulation of your nipples usually means I’m removing milk!).  Now, I know this might sound a little awkward coming from your baby, but I need you to know something about oxytocin.  There are only three events in your life that trigger oxytocin release: nipple stimulation (like when I’m breastfeeding), labor (the oxytocin released during childbirth stimulates uterine contractions, which is why nipple stimulation might be suggested when labor stalls, and also explains why sometimes, after you breastfeed me, you feel an increased expulsion of lochia and maybe some cramping), and … orgasm!!  Isn’t neat that the same hormone plays a part in making me, birthing me, and feeding me, and it’s a hormone that makes you feel GOOD to do all three?

Mommy, I know you are trying your very best for me and you’ve been worried about whether your body can satisfy my appetite.  I know you’re used to being able to measure everything, and your breasts don’t have markers on them to tell you how much milk I got.  Maybe you used a breast pump, and that confirmed your worries that there isn’t much milk there – but mommy, please understand that a good pump can mimic me, but your body wasn’t designed to have all these wonderful hormone surges for a cold piece of plastic with a noisy vacuum motor.  You know that feeling you get when you hold my warmth and weight, smell how delicious I am, and nom nom nom on my fat cheeks?  That feeling helps you make milk!  That feeling is part of the whole system that was designed to make you need to be close to me, just as much as I need to be close to you.  And mommy, I know you’re very busy, and important, and there’s so much you used to do before I came, and I know right now, it feels like you’ll never do those things again, and our house is getting messy, and maybe that scares you.  But please know, every moment you spend holding me, every time you gaze lovingly at me, and every hour you spend breastfeeding me in these early days is so important to me, because you’re all I know.  I love daddy and grandma and all of our friends, but I’m designed to be happiest and least stressed when I’m with you.  Can you wear me in a sling or soft carrier after I’m milk-drunk?  I really like listening to your heart beating while I sleep, and you are warm and soft and smell so good.  That space between your breasts is perfectly sized for my head, and there’s nothing I like better than the feel of your skin against mine.  Well, maybe there is something I like better … I love it when you sleep next to me after we’ve been breastfeeding.  Oh, mommy, when you nurse me while lying down, you relax and your milk flows so nicely, and I feel like you’re so happy to be with me, and I’m very special to you because you don’t have to run off and do something else as soon as I’ve let your breast go.

And mommy, I have a promise to make to you.  I can’t say for sure when it will happen, but there will come a day when I need you a little bit less intensely.  My feedings will get more organized, my weight gain will stabilize, and sometimes, I’ll even like when my daddy or grandma or other loving person holds me.  But today, I need you.  You’ll always be my number one, even after we’re done breastfeeding, but I will learn, like you did, to defer my needs and to trust others to meet them once you and I get a good thing going.  Thank you so much for all you’ve done for me so far. Until you start giving me an allowance, I hope my good health, sweet smiles, coos, and giggles will sustain you!

Love,

Baby


 

Many thanks to the hundreds of readers that shared so many beautiful photos of their newborn babies.  There is just a small sampling here but you all have incredible photographs of your beautiful babies.  Thank you for being willing to share and to all the photographers of these precious images!

 

Diana Cassar-Uhl, IBCLC and La Leche League Leader, has written articles for the La Leche League publications Leaven and Breastfeeding Today, and is the author of the La Leche League tear-off sheet Vitamin D, Your Baby, and You. She is a frequent presenter at breastfeeding education events. Excited about her work toward a Master of Public Health, Diana hopes to work in public service as an advisor to policymakers in maternal/child health and nutrition. Diana, mother to three breastfed children, has served as a clarinetist on active Army duty in the West Point Band since 1995. Diana enjoys running, writing, skiing, and cross-stitching when she finds herself with spare time.  She also writes at Normal, like breathing

 

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The Problem Continues

Hi XiLan,

I again apologize for the inconvenience you have experienced. The Page was disabled initially disabled in error and appears to have been affected by some sort of glitch.

We are currently looking into the matter that you reported, and will respond as soon as possible. Please be assured that Facebook takes users’ concerns around content very seriously. We apologize for any inconvenience this delay might present.

Your Page has again been reactivated and you should be able to use it shortly.

Thanks for your understanding,

Lysander
User Operations
Facebook

(XiLan is the username of Jessi, the person that originally helped me set up The Leaky Boob on Facebook.)

The thing is I don’t understand.  It sounds like he just said: “I’m sorry, we here at Facebook don’t know what we’re doing.  It must be some sort of computer thing, it’s completely out of our hands.”

Mark Zuckerberg, get someone who knows what they are doing STAT!  As TIMES man of the year, surely you understand the importance of hiring people who are not only experienced and trained but also give a damn when they screw up.

The thing is, this “glitch” he speaks of continues to disable the accounts of women, other pages and groups that have shared breastfeeding photos.  Additionally users and pages deactivated receive little to no response to their inquires as to why.  I got some sort of an apology and an excuse but most do not.  It’s starting to feel like we’re living with an abusive partner.  Many of us that share breastfeeding photos are on edge now, there has been a rash of deletions and more coming out and saying they would share breastfeeding photos but they are afraid of getting pulled.

So why do we stay?  I’ve addressed before why The Leak Boob is needed on Facebook and why we choose to carry on our little community there.  But still, wouldn’t we feel safer if we moved on to some place where accounts don’t just suddenly disappear?

Of course we would.  However, I’m refusing to accept being told to hide to feed my babies, virtually or otherwise.  The easy access on Facebook makes it such a simple step for women and those that support breastfeeding to participate in The Leaky [email protected]@b community, providing a wealth of information and resources in a place where they are already active and connected.  Beyond that though having an active presence on Facebook does something else:  normalize breastfeeding.  Shunning breastfeeding moms to “discreet” (read: obscure) corners of the internet does nothing to encourage accepting breastfeeding as a normal and beneficial piece of family life.  We have to stop communicating one thing (i.e. “breast is best”) and doing another (i.e “but I don’t want to see it“).

Facebook told the ABC 13 reporter that they are not against breastfeeding and that breastfeeding photos are permitted on the site.  In an email response to her inquiry regarding the deletion of The Leaky Boob they invited her to search the site stating she would see many breastfeeding materials pop up.  She did and yes, there were other groups and materials related to breastfeeding including photos.  They restated their terms of service regarding nudity, obscenity, hateful content, etc. and maintained that they are pro-breastfeeding.

Yet just as recently as yesterday another page was deleted for breastfeeding photos and another just a few days before that.  Several participants on The Leaky [email protected]@b have had photos removed and a warning issued that they posted a photo that violated the TOS.  There are at least 7 others that I know of that have had their accounts deactivated, 1 after posting just 1 breastfeeding photo within just the last week.  Historic Photos and Prints of Breastfeeding had a good chunk of their photos and art prints removed this week as well.  Personally I had 5 photos deleted and warnings issued last week and am surprised my account has not been deactivated.  This just a sampling and it continues to grow.   Groups and pages like Removed: The List, Stop Deleting Mother’s Support Groups F. B., Breastfeeding and Birth Pics that were deleted by bots, and more  dedicated to keeping tract of who was removed and petitioning to bring back users are being created almost as quickly as breastfeeding photos are being removed.

When these individuals and groups request information as to why they receive the same form email I did.  Upon appeal they receive yet another form email.  If they hear anything at all.  Facebook may claim to the media that they support breastfeeding and women but their actions and lack of communication with the users they’ve deactivated indicate something entirely different.  If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, looks like a duck…

Hello Lysander,

Thank you for your personal response regarding the deactivation and request for reinstatement for The Leaky [email protected]@b page.  I genuinely appreciate your apology and having the page reinstated again.

As excited as we are to have The Leaky [email protected]@b back, the situation has not changed.  Any page, individual, or photo is at risk of being deleted when related to breast health.  Because of message size constraints, I will send the list of pages and profiles still deleted to you under separate cover.

Facebook has a responsibility to its customers to clearly communicate that they are pro-women by creating a new way to moderate materials flagged as obscene and providing protection for pages that register as breast health or breastfeeding related.

By reinstating The Leaky [email protected]@b page, twice, Facebook indicates that you are aware there is a significant problem with your current system and it appears this has been an ongoing problem since 2007.

I respect that you need a system to maintain a site free of inappropriate groups and pornographic images and I appreciate the efforts to keep Facebook safe.  However, when images, pages and user accounts are deleted it is nearly impossible for these to reinstated without the involvement of the media.  The lack of response for requests to appeal disabled accounts or at least to receive an explanation for the action communicates you do not support breastfeeding or breast health which means you do not support women.

Lysander, I know you are not personally responsible for this flaw with Facebook, however, you are the only person that has attempted to contact me personally.  I would appreciate your attention to the list of names and pages I’ve included that are currently deactivated for posting breastfeeding photos.

I would love to report in my next round of media interviews that Facebook has a solution to this problem, can you tell me how you plan to make this situation permanently better?  Also, when can the deleted pages/profiles expect to be reinstated?

Thank you for your time and quick response on this matter.

Sincerely,

Jessica Martin-Weber

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It’s Time for Facebook to Prove It’s Not Anti-Women

The Leaky [email protected]@b Facebook page was reinstated again this afternoon, January 5, 2011.  This time cautious celebrations were expressed on the page along with fear that it would just go back down.  As I write this it has been up for 7 hours, just about as long as it was up yesterday.  Hopefully it will really stay this time.

Our celebration is tempered a bit though, we’re missing a few of our members.  Several “Leakies” as we affectionately call those on the Facebook page, had their accounts disabled after receiving warnings for supposed obscene photos.  Just like TLB, they received the non-specific form letter via email informing them that they were deleted for violating the TOS. These individuals along with numerous other group and business pages have had their accounts deactivated all because someone decided that their breastfeeding photo or information was vulgar.

Judy P. Masucci, Ph.D, president and owner of A Mother’s Boutique shares how Facebook deactivating her account last summer impacted her.  Now she tip-toes around her pages on Facebook afraid to say or post anything that may attract unwanted attention.  What is she doing that is so obscene?  Sharing information and photos that support breastfeeding and mothering.  No lewd photos, no hateful content and certainly nothing as revealing as what you can find on the Playboy Facebook page.  (I can’t bring myself to link to the Playboy page but if you’re really curious do a Facebook search, you’ll see what I mean.)

As excited as we are to have The Leaky [email protected]@b back, the problem remains and any page, individual, or photo is at risk of being deleted when related to breast health.  Facebook has a responsibility to it’s customers to clearly communicate that they are pro-women by creating a new way to moderate materials flagged as obscene.  No doubt the company is overwhelmed with reports of obscenity but surely they are smart enough to develop a system that would allow them to remove the truly obscene materials while those related to breast health including breastfeeding and breast cancer are able to remain.  Additionally they need to have a provision for an exempt status for all groups, pages, and companies related to breast health.  If they don’t, well entrepreneurs, there’s a market here for you to create a new social media site that can do just that.  Facebook, your customers are unhappy and many of us are waiting to see what you decide to do now before we take our business elsewhere.  I appreciate your efforts to keep pornographic images off Facebook, I really do but please, breastfeeding is not pornographic.  Reinstating The Leaky [email protected]@b indicates that you are aware there is a significant problem with your current mode of operation.  The first media coverage I could find on this problem dates back to 2007.  You would think Facebook would get tired of this and make some necessary changes.  Four years is long enough, fix it.

Have you had your account deactivated and you suspect it is for breastfeeding photos?  If you or someone you know of, individual or group, has had their account or page deactivated please leave the information in the comments here.  If there is a page started to bring them back (as was Bring Back The Leaky Boob- again.) please share the link to that as well.  I am compiling a list to take to Facebook not only to ask for those pages and individuals to be reinstated but to show how flawed their current system is.  If The Leaky [email protected]@b could be deleted twice within a matter of days something is obviously not working.

Nobody should have to tip-toe around their pages afraid that educating and supporting breastfeeding or breast health could have them deleted.  Help us continue to hold Facebook accountable to it’s customers.

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