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HEY, FACEBOOK, BREASTFEEDING IS NOT OBSCENE!

These pages are dedicated to breastfeeding women everywhere. They provide what is needed in the start of life. Breastfeeding is a very important act in nurturing children, and often a highlight in the life and memory of women, as the photos below suggest.

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Here we present the first page of photos banned from the social utility Facebook, as well as a few that haven't been. With several hundred million users, Facebook still removes from its pages photographs of women breastfeeding, despite complaints about that practice beginning as long ago as June 2007.

Facebook claimed that breastfeeding photos violated its terms of service if they showed "an entire breast." Eventually it dropped the vagueness and the euphemism and claimed that all photos with a visible nipple or areola were "obscene," "pornographic," or "sexually explicit." This claim by Facebook is at odds with legislation, case law, and actual practice throughout the USA. In addition, breastfeeding itself is allowed in public, exposed breasts or not, in almost all states in the country. By its attitude and action, Facebook is wrong. It demeans and stigmatizes women and breastfeeding.

In May 2009, the same Facebook spokesperson responsible for the above claims said that Facebook removes only a small number of photos of naked women breastfeeding. That would be funny if it weren't so ignorant. Facebook also claims that images of breasts harm children. That's absurd. Facebook wrongly uses children as an excuse for its immaturity and errors.

Facebook is undoubtedly a great utility, both useful and fun. Its worldwide acceptance on the Internet confers upon it a responsibility to do better.

The protest against Facebook's removal of many breastfeeding photos isn't really about legality. It's not even about rights. It's about what is right.

Number of photos in this collection: 416. Of those, 400 have been banned, some more than once. The few others are here for comparison. Comments from the photos' owners are often illuminating. Note that many thousands more photos have been banned than we have collected.

In recent times, whole accounts have been removed by Facebook over one beautiful, important, helpful, legal photo. Facebook also uses inappropriate skin-recognition software to present targeted users with many randomly chosen photos of theirs to delete on threat of losing their account. Unlike comparable sites, Facebook has appointed itself the world's moralistic photo vigilante, deploying these and similar tactics well known from large tyrannical European states of the 20th century. Its ignorant, crass, inexcusable censorship, which it attempts to justify with glib spin that is false in every detail, also indirectly supports the USA's longstanding dehumanizing manipulation of women's bodies and its high rate of violence against them.


Our NON-DISCLAIMER re photos

Many sites would carry a warning: Keep away if you're under 18! NSFW!

We don't believe in that. Women's breasts in photos like these bother no one except those who have unfortunately been trained to be embarrassed by them or to control them when they have no right to.


We posted most of the photos at the same height. We acknowledge that some appeared on Facebook bigger, and a few smaller. The effect a photo has depends on size, among other things. Also, we cannot guarantee how things like colour or contrast appear, because they depend on individual monitors.

Photographs on this site are not to be reproduced in any location or in any medium or format without the prior consent of the owner of the photograph, except as permitted by law. Neither TERA nor its proprietors, members, or site host assumes any responsibility for what is posted, with which they may or may not agree. Comments may have been edited for clarity or legal reasons.

tandem.jpg Photo from Karen Speed

The photo above is the first of Karen's to be banned: on July 29, 2007. Two more are below.

The main protest group on Facebook remains "Hey, Facebook, Breastfeeding is not Obscene!" It was started by Kelli Roman in June 2007; she had photos removed then. In the last few weeks of 2008, the group doubled in size, from about fifty thousand members to a hundred thousand.

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The two photos immediately above are also from Karen Speed.

"I took both of them myself, lol.  One [above, left] is when we went on a family skiing/sledding trip in January 2007. It was great having
the convenience of breastfeeding available---just sat down in the snow and provided lunch.

"The other picture [above, right] is of particular significance, because we were at Disneyland in November of 2006, and it was
my first time breastfeeding in another country. :D"

When these were banned, on August 25, 2007, Facebook deleted Karen's entire account. The news went around the world in early September, 2007. Karen had written to Facebook, whose messages back to her grew progressively less sensible.

FB2.jpg "Breastfeeding: a guide for mothers"

On December 31, 2008, Time magazine wrote a fine article about this issue but said of the photos on this page, "One or two are vaguely pornographic shots of naked women holding babies." Is there something pornographic about skin-to-skin contact with babies? About a woman breastfeeding naked? Pornographic?

 

 

 


"I'm Morgan Gallagher, mother and lactivist. My lactivist writings
may be found here. I posted this health education poster in my profile, during the protest. It was up for about 15 minutes, before I changed it to a portait of the Virgin Mary with her breast completely exposed. In those 15 minutes, someone complained to Facebook that it was obscene.

"I can only presume the complaint was made by a lactaphobe who was following the protest posts. It was up for such a short time, and deleted on December 28th [2008], a few hours after the protest finished.

"My husband and a few others have had the same photo up for some time. No others have been deleted, as, presumably, no one has complained . . . yet."
(Written 2008 December 28)

FB4.jpg Photo from Emma Kwasnica

"I am a tandem-nursing mother whose photo was deleted (without warning) and whose account on FB has been threatened with suspension as a result of my uploading this photo. At the time this photo was taken, I had just given birth to a whopping-great 9.5 pound nucchal-armed baby. I imagine my bare, 6-hour-old postpartum belly and my bare legs may have contributed to offending someone's sensibilities, along with both of my breasts being suckled by my daughters---breasts which only became offensive, I imagine, once they were seen to be functioning in their primary, non-sexual role!

This photo was in my private photo album (set to "friends only" for viewing), but I also posted it to the MILC event page. I do believe it was someone trolling through those photos who reported it (rather than someone on my friends list).

"The photo was deleted by FB on December 28, 2008, under the pretense that my posting it thus renders Facebook "unsafe for children."

"As an aspiring midwife and a tireless advocate for the rights of childbearing/-rearing women, I run a lively discussion group on Facebook, called Informed Choice: Birth and Beyond.

"If they were to ban me entirely from Facebook, it would be a terrible shame. Indeed . . . How incredibly sad for humanity that human flesh frightens us so."

Emma Kwasnica had her entire account deleted from Facebook at 10:50 AM (Eastern Standard Time) on January 1, 2009.

FB27.jpg Photo from Emma Kwasnica

"This was deleted [December 30, 2008], I am sure, because Anna is a 'big' kid (she had just turned 4 in this photo). This is getting ridiculous. People need to see that 'big' kids nurse, too!"

The World Health Organization agrees with Emma, as do mothers and children in many countries. For interesting reading on ages of weaning, go here.

Emma Kwasnica had her entire account deleted from Facebook at 10:50 AM (Eastern Standard Time) on January 1, 2009. After complaints from her, it was restored without explanation on January 19, 2009, at 2:54 AM.

Below is a photograph of Emma and her family at the Montréal Breastfeeding Challenge (Défi allaitement) in October 2008. Emma is a major force for women's, mothers', and breastfeeders' rights.

FB49.jpg Photo from the Journal de Montréal

This photo has been widely posted on Facebook and elsewhere. The article accompanying it is titled "Pour vaincre un tabou" ("To break down a taboo"). Ironic, under the circumstances.

FB5.jpg Banned December 29, 2008

Morgan Gallagher found this on the Internet, doing image searches. "I have a store of them that I use for writing and speaking about breastfeeding. I simply uploaded my cache into the MILC site, as it was such a good archive for others needing such images.

"I'm not sure what was most offensive: the breast or the pregnancy. My experience is that pregnancy photos cause more outcry."

This photo was shown censored on ABC TV's Good Morning America program (in the USA) on January 3, 2009. ABC claims, "We cannot show these photos without blurring. them out." Of course they can, unless they believe that the Federal Communications Commission has a legitimate role as national moralist, a role beyond its mandate, with concomitant unfettered rights to impose crass censorship. At least ABC doesn't call the three photos it took from this site obscene.

The other two they broadcast are here (the one on the right) and here.

FB6,jpg Photo from Kelly Geddes

Banned by Facebook on December 28, 2008

FB7.jpg Photo from Claire Gannon

Christmas 2008. Photo banned by Facebook around that time.

FB8.jpg Photo from Heather Farley

Heatrher Farley was the organizer of the on-site protest at Facebook's headquarters in Palo Alto, California, on December 27, 2008. Bravo, Heather!

This photo of hers was banned by Facebook in early November 2008.

FB3.jpg "Un regalo para toda la vida" ("A gift for a lifetime")

On December 31, 2008, Time magazine wrote a fine article about this issue but said of the photos on this page, "One or two are vaguely pornographic shots of naked women holding babies." Is there something pornographic about skin-to-skin contact with babies? About a woman breastfeeding unclothed? Pornographic?

 

 

 

This photo represented a video of still images of breastfeeding by Judit Reyes Griñena in Spain. Both the photo and the video were removed by Facebook on December 27, 2008.

FB9.jpg Photo from Kendra Wivell

Banned December 28, 2008


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A series of three photos from Kendra Wivell.
On her website (where these are in colour), the caption is "A good latch --- a happy baby." Yes!

On December 28, 2008, good old Facebook banned the first and third photos. Rather ruins the narrative, don't you think?
Breastfeeding involves latching on and latching off, and drinking in between. Which part of that doesn't Facebook understand?

Although it claims to support breastfeeding, Facebook demeans and disparages it and women by telling them that their "whole breasts"
(meaning nipples and areolas, actually) are always "obscene, pornographic, or sexually explicit."
These photos must then all be examples of child pornography!


FB13.jpg Photo from Josefina Schatz

"I guess that what bothers them is that my son isn't a baby, but a 3-year-old toddler, but they should know that WHO recommends giving the breast at least till the age of 2, and still longer if the mother and child wish." Y en Español:

"Creo que lo que más molestó es que mi hijo no es un bebé, sino un niño de 3 años, pero deberían saber que la OMS recomienda dar el pecho por lo menos hasta los 2 años, y aún más si la madre y el niño así lo desean."

Josefina's blog is here. It makes lively reading (in Spanish). Hey, Facebook, amamantar no es obsceno!!!

Banned December 29, 2008

FB14.jpg Photo from Julie Archuleta Poirier

Banned December 29, 2008

FB15.jpg Photo from Brandie Mailand

"So what if part of my areola shows? What's more important is that it's a beautiful photo of a peaceful, well-fed baby."

Banned December 29, 2008

FB16.jpg Photo from Ashley Fuller

"I got a warning and my photo removed from Facebook today, December 29th [2008]. I have my photos and my profile both set so that only friends can see them.

"I had this in an album called Breastfeeding, with one other picture---which was left alone. The funny thing is that the only difference between the two photos (besides the angle) was that the banned photo had a bit of areola showing.

"Oh no, not the dreaded areola! It's shocking!

"What I love about this whole thing is that I didn't realize just how passionate I was about breastfeeding until now! I've fed in public before, sometimes with a cover, sometimes without, and I've never gotten a dirty look. Then again, my baby is only 3 months old---maybe the nasty looks will be more frequent when she gets to being toddler age and more people think it's 'weird.'

"My personal newsfeed right now consists almost entirely of things relating to breastfeeding. Ha!"


FB17.jpgPhotos at the right from
Amanda Spears

Both banned December 28,
2008

 

 

 

 

 

FB18.jpg

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FB20.jpg Photos at the left from
Katherine Oakey

They were joined vertically
as one on Facebook when
they were removed, on
December 29, 2008.


FB21.jpg Photo from Anne Hinze

"Obscene? Really? No way!" [Drinks cheerily . . .] That's our imagined caption. Here's what this little guy's mother (Anne Hinze) wrote as a caption for it: "Yes, this is a nipple. If you are offended, don't look! I eat here! It's normal. Get over yourself and grow up!"

Wyatt is 6 months old in this photo. It's a heart-warming indication of why banning images like this is thoughtless.

Banned December 28, 2008

FB22.jpg Photo from Anne Hinze

Madeleine, a few hours old. Her mother (Anne Hinze) took this photo and the one above it. She's a certificated lactation counsellor and educator in northwestern Florida. Read her enlightening essay, "On Breastfeeding and Obscenity," here.

Banned December 29, 2008

FB23.jpg Photo from Laura Bernhein

I'm the super happy mother of Layla, almost 16 months. Today [December 30, 2008] I added a photo---of me nursing Layla while taking a bath---to the group Hey Facebook, Breastfeeding is not Obscene. Four hours later my picture was removed.

My blog and my social network (both in Spanish) are passionately dedicated to attachment parenting. I think it's super sad that an important social tool like Facebook wouldn't co-operate to inform women about the only perfect food for babies: la leche de mamá [mother's milk]!!

Abrazos [Hugs] and thanks for your work!

FB24.jpg Photo from Gabrielle Pestinger

"Photo of Dahli, aged 2 years, 3 months, enjoying her 'bibs' in the sun."

Banned December 30, 2008

FB25.jpg Photo from Linda Björk Eiríksdóttir

Message to Facebook after this photo was banned on December 30, 2008:

"Hi there.

"You just deleted one of my breastfeeding pictures because you said it violated the terms of use. Well, I object! There is absolutely nothing obscene or pornographic about nursing a baby. Here is a link to the picture: [link provided to the photo above]

"If you can point out the pornographic, sexy, or obscene part of it, then please point it out to me, because I don't see it. The picture shows a new mom feeding her newborn baby for the first time. Yes, it does show my breast. But it shows it doing what it was made for doing. You can thank the breast for the survival of mankind, you know.

"If you are unable to see the difference between showing a small part of your breast when nursing and showing your breast just for the purpose of showing your breast, then it is your ethics that need to be looked at. There is something really sick with this world when breastfeeding photographs are considered not okay. It is just twisted that people actually see something wrong with such a natural and beautiful thing.

"Why don't you help us turn things around, and help the world to see breastfeeding as the beautiful act it really is."

FB26.jpg Photo from Morgan Gallagher

Another poster banned by Facebook (on December 30, 2008). This is from INFACT Canada (Infant Feeding Action Coalition), "a national non-governmental organization that works to protect infant and young child health as well as maternal well-being through the promotion and support of breastfeeding and optimal infant feeding practices." The small print: "You've got what it takes to make a healthy baby. And it doesn't cost a thing." Morgan Gallagher adds:

"That Facebook can delete INFACT's own promotional material just goes to show how unthinking this company is. But as they act on their private club in cyberspace, they can do as they wish with human rights. They can delete Canadian and Argentinian health promotion [the Aregntinian poster is near the top of this page] and breastfeeding protection posters, and claim they are obscene. If they did this in actuality, in California, with actual physical posters, they'd be breaking the law."

The same poster was banned by Facebook from Gina Merlin's account on February 21, 2009, another day of protest against Facebook's deletions.

FB28.jpg Photo from Mel Graham

"I know he isn't actually feeding but had just finished a feed. The photo was titled "All full up," or something like that.

"How come they can have pictures of topless men and not of breastfeeding women . . . men have nipples too! One rule for one and another for another --- it's pathetic.

"We are using our bodies for their actual purpose. Does someone find it obscene when a puppy is suckling the mother? No, they see it as cute . . . So what difference is there really?"

Banned December 29, 2008

FB29.jpg Photo from Sean Turvey

This is the first photo we've put here that was banned (December 29, 2008) from a man's Facebook pages. But that's not a man's breast.

Men as well as women were invited to participate in the December 27, 2008 protest, which some men did. Notable favourable comments were made about this photo, which Sean found on the Internet.
FB30.jpgPhoto no. 1
FB31.jpgPhoto no. 2
FB32.jpgPhoto no. 3
Photos from Chelle Geden

"I too was 'reprimanded' by Facebook [on December 29, 2008] for a breastfeeding photo. They've done the breastfeeding mom brigade a favour, however, in doing so.
I'm ticked off!! And when I'm ticked off, I'm mouthy. I will be keeping an eye out for any possible protesting, petitioning,
and/or civil action more than I normally would. Thanks, FB, for making this momma a more active lactivist!

"I thought twice about posting these pics. I have a lot of male friends from church whom I post with on FB and worried about
what they might think about parts of a breast being exposed. Then I realized that these men and their wives and children
wouldn't be harmed by seeing anything shown in these pics, because my breasts are doing what God intended them to do.
So up the pictures went.

"I've been proudly nursing at least one of my four blessings whenever, wherever, for the past 7 1/2 years!"

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We played "Guess the no-no." One of these loving photos (above) was banned from Facebook, but the other two weren't.

Visitors guessed which was banned (no reason needed).
Deadline: January 2, 2009, noon Eastern Standard Time (in North America).
The only prize was the fun (or maybe aggravation) in guessing, and eventually learning the answer.

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2009 January 03. The "contest" mentioned above was over yesterday. 36.5% guessed no. 1 was banned; 18% guessed no. 2; and the most votes, 45.5%, were for no. 3.
The correct answer is no. 1. That suggests the best way to figure out what Facebook bans is to toss a coin.

If we get time, we'll post some comments that came in with the votes. Thanks to all who wrote in, and special thanks to Chelle Geden,
who okayed this bit of fun/aggravation with her own photographs.

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