Breastfeeding mothers are accusing Facebook of censorship again. In what's become an ongoing quarrel, Heather Stultz and Cece Buehner, founders of a "Respect the Breast" community page about breastfeeding on Facebook, are the latest activists to call out the social network for removing photos of nursing moms.
Facebook pulled four breastfeeding photos last week, Stultz told The Huffington Post, adding that this isn't the first time the "Respect the Breast" page has been the target of breastfeeding censorship. Since November, a total of 38 breastfeeding photos have been taken down, and in response, she is circulating an online petition to draw attention to the issue, Stultz said.
"I've got 7,100 fans and they are pretty irate about it," she said. "We won't stop until we have a handwritten apology from Mark Zuckerberg." Stultz, who is from the Charlotte, N.C., area, and Buehner, of Oshkosh, Wis., founded the page in December in support of breastfeeders, according to its information area, which declares, "Breastfeeding is not sexual! it is a beautiful bond between mother and child that should be cherished!"
Facebook, for its part, has repeatedly said it supports the rights of breastfeeding mother and their posting of photos, however the photos must adhere to its policies. In a statement provided to The Huffington Post to respond to Stultz and Buehner's claims, a representative provided the following statement:
Facebook is glad that mothers and their families -- including many who work at Facebook -- use Facebook to share their parenting experiences, including breastfeeding their children. By uploading photos, joining groups, and engaging with different organizations, these families are able to share and connect on a very important topic, and we are thrilled they are using Facebook to do so.
When it comes to uploaded photos on Facebook, the vast majority of breastfeeding photos comply with our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, which closely mirrors the policy that governs broadcast television, and which places limitations on nudity due to the presence of minors on our site. On some occasions, breastfeeding photos contain nudity -- for example an exposed breast that is not being used for feeding -- and therefore violate our terms. When such photos are reported to us and are found to violate our policies, the person who posted the photo is contacted, and the photos are removed.
Our policies strive to fit the needs of a diverse community while respecting everyone’s interest in sharing content that is important to them, including experiences related to breastfeeding. It is important to note that any breastfeeding photos that are removed -- whether inappropriately or in accordance with our policies -- are only done so after being brought to our attention by other Facebook users who report them as violations and subsequently reviewed by Facebook.
These latest accusations come just weeks after Canadian breastfeeding activist Emma Kwasnica took her battle against Facebook public. Last month, Kwasnica told The Huffington Post that her account had been suspended five times for the posting of breastfeeding photos and she subsequently organized nurse-ins at several of Facebook's headquarters.
Nurse-ins have become a popular way for or breast-feeding activists, or "l'activists" as they are sometimes called, to protest what they view as a bigger societal problem: Doctors and the Surgeon General's Office alike pound on the "breast is best" drum, but when mothers try to abide by that mantra, they face harsh judgment from the public. Critics ranging from managers at community pools to employees at supposedly family-friendly Target stores and a women's only gym have instructed nursing mothers to cover up and go elsewhere to feed their babies.
April Ryley, who is fan of the "Respect the Breast" page, indicated to WCNC of Charlotte that she sees a problematic inconsistency when it comes to what Facebook deems acceptable.
“I was kind of surprised that Facebook wouldn’t have a problem with a girl not wearing pants, but does have a problem with a woman feeding her baby,” Ryley said.