Breastfeeding photo ban by Facebook sparks global protest by mothers
A global campaign has been launched by thousands of mothers against social networking site Facebook for banning photos of women breastfeeding.
By Urmee Khan, Digital and Media Correspondent Last Updated: 7:53AM GMT 31 Dec 2008
Mothers around the world have rallied agaist the policy which they say stigmatises breastfeeding and demeans women Photo: GETTY
Thousands of women have had their pictures of removed from profiles and online albums after they were classified as "obscene content" by the site. Many have also received warnings that they may be barred from using the site.
Mothers around the world have rallied agaist the policy and some have even picketed the Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California - under the banner of the Mothers International Lactation Campaign, to complain about the policy which they say stigmatises breastfeeding and demeans women.
Over 82,000 people have joined a Facebook petition group "Hey Facebook, Breast-feeding is not Obscene" with hundreds joining every hour.
More than 11,000 people around the world took part in the 'Mothers International Lactation Campaign' through an online "nurse-in" protest on Saturday by posting more breastfeeding pictures. Many of these photos have been subsequently removed.
Barry Schnitt, a Facebook spokesman, said: "We agree that breastfeeding is natural and beautiful and we're very glad to know that it is so important to some mothers to share this experience with others on Facebook."
But, he added, some photos were removed to ensure the site remains safe and secure for all users, including children.
"Photos containing a fully exposed breast - as defined by showing the nipple or areola - do violate those terms on obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit material and may be removed," he said in a statement. "The photos we act upon are almost exclusively brought to our attention by other users who complain."
But mothers say that breastfeeding is natural and healthy and should be not bracketed with pornography.
Katherine Brierly, from Brighton, said: "BF is natural, and allows the mum to have food on tap 24/7, wherever she is, that is safe and in the right quantities and temperature at all times.
"Prudes like you would wish every mother to complicate their lives and potentially endanger their children's health so that you don't have to see a bit of nipple."
Nicky Cartwright Pashley, from Sheffield, said: "When I go to the beach I see people's asses and breasts exposed in bits of string pretending to be swimwear. I would much rather see the beauty and love of a mother feeding her baby than be subjected to complete strangers' gratuitous flesh flashing."
Earlier this month, Nicola Wood, 27, was reprimanded for breastfeeding her baby during a carol service at St Peter's Cathedral, Exeter.
"My little boy Theo, who is six months old, was getting hungry, so I started to breastfeed him, but all I could hear was a woman a few pews back moaning and saying, 'oh my God, how disgusting'," she said.
"Then she came up to me at the end of the service and said, 'as long as this cathedral has been open I have never seen anyone as disgusting as you in church. You might as well have been naked and peeing in the church'. It ruined the whole service for me."