Why TLB on Facebook and What You Can Do To Help

Better late than never.  I’m hoping this is true because I’m showing up late to my own party.  After my little fairytale land came crashing down I had to stay and be active in the real world, the one where I’m mommy, wife, daughter-in-law, cradle, food, cook, etc.  The plans for the day would go on and online drama would have to wait for later.

I’ve been grateful that for quite a while now The Leaky Boob Facebook page has been flying safely under the radar.  Not getting attention was a good thing, it helped keep TLB a safe place, a place where the community of “Leakies” as we called ourselves was free to carry on encouraging and supporting breastfeeding.  Rarely did I worry about something happening to our page.  If something did happen we already had created The Leaky Boob Forums as a protected space for conversation and sharing photos without fear of them being deleted.  It wasn’t that I was unaware that Facebook deleted breastfeeding photos and whole accounts over breastfeeding images, I just hoped that we were a quiet enough group that nobody would notice or have any reason to cause trouble.

People don’t always have to have a reason.  Or at least, not one I can understand.

It has been pointed out a few times that Facebook can’t be trusted as a safe place for forum type communities and with good reason, they can indeed delete things all willy-nilly and without warning.  Which is exactly what happened.  So why build a community on Facebook when we risk having it all taken away?

Simply put: because the community built itself.  Though we created the space for protected forums they didn’t grow at the rate the Facebook community did.  The culture founded itself on Facebook and there were many reasons for it to continue there in spite of the precarious nature of the site.  Facebook is easy to use.  The simple layout made skimming for new posts a cinch.  The accessibility to the site from mobile devices such as phones and iPods allowed people that didn’t have regular access to a computer access to the community.  The ability to visit the page without going to another website or dealing with additional log-in helped it stay fast-paced and casual.  Posts being updated in newsfeeds permitted followers to stay in touch without constantly having to keep up with multiple posts.

My plans for TLB were simple from the beginning: support breastfeeding women and the people that support them.  Have fun.  Be real.  Communicate respectfully.  Share information.  Swap stories.  Encourage moms and families.  Tolerance.  As long as I felt those things were happening I didn’t see a need to change much.

But one of the biggest reasons we stayed on Facebook was that I couldn’t have moved it if I wanted to.  The Leakies were settled and happy.  I loved knowing that right there in the middle of a mainstream social networking site was growing a community of breastfeeding supporters.  Better yet, this helped connect moms of all styles, be they crunchy, mainstream, attachment-parents, traditional, homeschoolers, public-schoolers, Christian, Pagan, Atheist, European, SAHM, WOHM, old, young, first-time, seventh-time, currently lactating, hasn’t lactated in 25 years, not-yet-a-mom, single, married, and on and on around one common piece of parenting: breastfeeding.  People that would have never joined a breastfeeding forum could easily “like” a Facebook page and find out that breastfeeding wasn’t just for “crazy hippie types” or just for “stay-at-home-moms” or just for the type-A “have it all together types” or just for whatever type they thought excluded them.  Moms that would have been intimidated in many settings to say “I only want to breastfeed for 6 weeks” could read through posts without ever having to sign-up or create an account.  Unfolding conversations invited participants and lurkers alike to experience the normal ups and downs, funny and sad, tender and strange moments of breastfeeding.  To see breastfeeding as normal.

It is for all those reasons that I think it’s worth getting the original The Leaky Boob page back on Facebook.  Sure, it’s risky and there’s a chance we’ll experience trouble again.  So what.  I’ve had mastitis twice in the last 4 months, I’m still breastfeeding.  Because it’s totally worth it.  To me this is worth it too.  Reaching and encouraging moms right where they are.

What can you do?  Plenty.

Join the petition. For starters you can join the Bring Back The Leaky Boob Facebook page and you can share it with all your friends and then some.  In less than 24 hours it grew to over 5,000 “likes” and there is strength in numbers.  Information will be shared in real time on that page so please be sure to follow what’s going on there.

Let Mark Zuckerberg know.  I have no idea if this will make any difference at all but reading the comments on Mark Zuckerberg’s fan page, all 281 of them, are so encouraging.  Leave one if you’d like, if nothing else it’s just another place where we say we want TLB back and why.

Blog about it.  Posts started rolling out early in support of The Leaky Boob and protesting Facebook’s removal of our page.  Long before I got around to writing anything and while I was eating ginger chicken with the family the blog world was buzzing with the news.  I’m hoping to read each and every post too.  At the end of this post will be a list of blog posts related to the removal of The Leaky Boob’s Facebook page.  Check them out and thank the writers for the Leaky support.

Email. Respectful emails to Facebook to let them know you would like to see The Leaky Boob Facebook page brought back.  Please take time to craft your emails with respect.  Angry or hateful messages with name-calling are easily dismissed.  Level-headed, calm but persistent messages are harder to ignore.  Let’s show breastfeeding moms and breastfeeding supporters as a collected, educated group and blow apart the stereotype of hormonal outraged women.  (Even if that’s how you feel.)  You can try the Facebook help center though I’ve had little success through that avenue.  The new email address for appeals has already gotten me a response and you can try any of these as well with @fb.com: info, disabled, appeals, privacy, abuse, warning, customerservice. Huge thanks to Star for finding those addresses.

Continue supporting breastfeeding. There are lots of pages on Facebook and people on Twitter that support breastfeeding, encouraging and educating on the subject.  Let’s not forget the real mission, encouraging breastfeeding moms whether they breastfeed for a week, a month, a year or 3 years.  What really makes a difference is support; a breastfeeding mom with a community behind her is a breastfeeding mom with a future success story no matter how it turns out.  People are posting on the Bring Back The Leaky Boob page looking for BFing help as well as on TLB SupportBest for Babes, Nursing Freedom, Dispelling Breastfeeding Myths, Nurture Child, Blacktating Blog, TLB sponsors PumpEase, Motherlove Herbal, The Shower Hug, and lots, lots, lots more.  And support in real life ways too, support groups, mom-to-mom and by breastfeeding in public if your lactating and comfortable with NIP (Nursing In Public) and if you’re not then giving an encouraging smile to any mom you do happen to see NIP.

Media. This isn’t the first time Facebook has deleted breastfeeding related pages and accounts.  They’ve done it before.  Yet they leave plenty of other pages that have been flagged and reported for being truly obscene.  So what’s the deal?  If you want to know maybe it’s time we take it to the media, maybe they can help us get some answers.  When Guggie Daly’s account was removed for allegedly violating the TOS with breastfeeding photos the media got wind of it and held Facebook accountable.  Guggies account was reinstated shortly after.  And when Kate Hansen and Emma Kwasnica had their accounts deleted in separate incidents Facebook reactivated their accounts when the press started poking around.  They even claim it happens on accident.  Anyone else have one eyebrow involuntarily shoot up at that suggestion?  What gives?  How do they keep accidentally deleting accounts related to breastfeeding?  And will they ever learn?  You can call or email your local media outlets and let them know that it appears Facebook is discriminating against women, specifically breastfeeding moms.

Comment and share.  Asking for comments makes me uncomfortable but having the interaction in an easier to find place such as the blog is helpful, particularly right now.  It would be great to point to the blog and show the support present in the comments.  Whether it is on this or other posts, it would mean a lot to me if you showed your support by leaving comments relating to the post you comment on.  Then share any posts from here on the blog that speak to you in some way.  Old or new, spread the word as a demonstration of our community being alive and well.  Let’s get the words The Leaky Boob all over Facebook in a way they can’t just hide with a click of a button.  And twitter too.  Which reminds me, you can find me tweeting at TheLeakyBoob.

Breastfeed.  I don’t yet have links to share but you can find information on the Bring Back The Leaky Boob page.  If you’re a breastfeeding mom and would feel empowered by joining other women in a nurse-in, there are some being organized.  Be looking for details and I’ll share what I know when I know it.

Read and share the articles.  Check out the posts here and the blogs listed below.  Read and comment and then share those links on Facebook, Twitter, the forums you frequent, etc.  Traffic, comments, and pure volume helps get attention and social pressure is really all we have to help make some change.

Thank you for all the support.  The Leaky Boob has made a difference for many women by having a presence on Facebook.  Even if we made a difference for just one woman I would still fight to be there.

List of blogs that have written about TLB and Facebook.  This list will be added to and updated, it is a work in progress.  If you would like to add your blog to this list please post in the comments below.  Thank you!

Hey, hey, ho, ho… Why Facebook (might) have to go… by Car StarRod
Facebook’s Contribution to the Declining Health of Society by Nurtured Child
Facebook Deletes Leaky Boob Support Group for Breastfeeding Moms by Dagmar Bleasdale
Breastfeeding Is About As Sexy As Eating A Salad by Confessions of an Earthy Young Mom
My Leaky Heart by Confessions of an Earthy Young Mom
Breastfeeding: A crime punishable by social ostracism… you decide! by Prolixity2
Bring Back The Leaky Boob by Attached At the Nip (isn’t that a clever name?!)
Really Facebook? by Adventures in Mommyhood (great minds think alike, I was thinking this same title for a bit)
Boobtastic Media Storm by Michelle Tant
Monday Giveaway Awesomeness by Not Just Mom
Facebook and Twisted Sensibilities by Village Wise Woman
Breastfeeding Support Under Attack by Mummies Nummies
Help The Leaky Boob by MommaKt
Dude, Where’s My Leaky B@@b? by Rockin’ Momma
Why Does Facebook Hate Breastfeeding by Embrace The Chaos, MSNca Lifestyle
Bring Back The Leaky B@@b by The Good Letdown
Facebook Deletes Breastfeeding Support Group ‘The Leaky B@@b’ by Christie Haskell at The Stir

Thanks to all you fantastic bloggers for your support.  I am honored to be a part of such a large, global community that supports women and families.