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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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Remember that fairytale?  It even got a fairytale ending.  For a little bit anyway.

It felt like a victory, like one small step for women-kind when Facebook reinstated The Leaky [email protected]@b page around 3 on Tuesday, January 4, 2011.  The whirl-wind of the previous 2 days seemed like it suddenly stopped.  There was virtual celebrating and our little fairytale community picked up right where it had left off plus a few thousand more members.  The wall on the page was hoping, after the celebrating calmed down posts asking about everything from how to deal with teething to is it ok if my baby wants to nurse all the time and is it ok to breastfeed past 12 months (it is, by the way) filled the page.  Leakies got back to the business of feeding their babies and supporting other Leakies.  Well wishers popped in congratulating us on getting our space back.  The energy was like a good party, a good party with good friends.  People that had never heard of TLB before joined and expressed how excited they were to know they were not alone.  Several others expressed how they wished they had something like TLB when they were breastfeeding and were so happy to see our community there for other moms now.

Personally, I was looking forward to a good night’s sleep.  You know that big sigh you heave when something intense, requiring hard word is over?  I couldn’t believe that after just a few short days I was already there, heaving that sigh and moving on.  For a moment my mind even wandered to other posts I had been planning before the page went down.  Everything was normal again.  I looked around at my neglected house and tackled a few areas.  I took Earth Baby to ballet, made dinner, spent some time on Facebook, read with my girls, made a batch of bread dough, did dishes, fed Smunchie, fiddled around on Twitter, fiddled around on the new web page, worked on an outline for another post, answered some emails, went back to Facebook.

And it was gone.  Not Facebook, The Leaky Boob.  I tried 3 times but I knew right away what was going on.  So I tried the Bring Back The Leaky Boob page.  Same result.  Both pages were gone.

Last time I cried.  This time I didn’t cry.  I closed my eyes and put my head back.

There was the same form letter email in my inbox, deleted for violating the terms of service.  Violators don’t get to come back.  I’ve heard that one before.

We’ll get the pages back.  It’s just not over yet.  But I already knew it wasn’t over.

It wasn’t enough to get The Leaky Boob page reinstated the first time because the problem is more than that one page being deleted. The Leaky Boob was reinstated and that was a very exciting and important piece of what we wanted. Still, Facebook needs to do something about the problem with deleting (erroneously or otherwise) breastfeeding pages and materials. Their system is not working and ignoring the problem positions all groups related to breast health including breastfeeding and breast cancer to experience the same treatment simply because any Facebook user can report or flag them for being obscene. Breast health is not obscene. Breasts are not obscene. Facebook needs to create some way for breast health pages, images (including personal breastfeeding photos), terminology and information to be exempt from automatic deletion when reported, or some other way to keep truly obscene content off the site without blocking legitimate pages.

The Leaky [email protected]@b fan page is missed by thousands of “Leakies.”  We need it back.  Studies show that support is crucial to breastfeeding success and a support community is what this is all about.  But this isn’t just about breastfeeding support, it’s about breast health, normalizing breastfeeding, infant nutrition, women’s rights, the objectification of women, and so much more.  This is about public health.

One step forward, two steps back.  I’m ready to run a marathon.

Two new pages have sprung up on Facebook, one aimed to Bring Back The Leaky Boob- again and the other invinting you to Join TLB in Support of Women’s Health.  Like these pages on Facebook to get up to date information.  I shared here ways for you to help, working together a community can accomplish great change.

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