Facebook has relaxed its strict policy on nudity when it come to a woman breastfeeding.
Facebook ended its ban on any and all images that show a woman’s exposed nipple two weeks ago. Now such pictures will be allowed if they are of a woman engaging in breastfeeding. The company quietly enacted this change in policy.
The change was discovered accidentally when women noticed that such pictures were no longer being removed from their pages.
Specifically, feminist writer Soraya Chemaly wrote about it on The Huffington Post: “The female nipple ban no longer exists for breastfeeding mothers, which should make many people who have been pushing the company to address a nudity double standard at least partially happy.”
The move comes after the social networking site received complaints from feminist groups who maintain that such pictures should not be considered obscene in regards to its policy against nudity. There was even an online campaign called #freethenipple.
A campaign led by Chemaly herself called on Facebook to combat both hate speech and “obscenity” double standards. It gathered over 60, 000 tweets, 5000 emails, and a many dissatisfied advertisers, which led Facebook to respond with a clarification of its policy.
Facebook now states its official policy on nudity as follows: “Facebook has a strict policy against the sharing of pornographic content and any explicitly sexual content where a minor is involved. We also impose limitations on the display of nudity. We aspire to respect people’s right to share content of personal importance, whether those are photos of a sculpture like Michelangelo’s David or family photos of a child breastfeeding.”
It’s Help section once stated, “Photos that show a fully exposed breast where the child is not actively engaged in nursing do violate the Facebook Terms.” But that has now been changed to read, “We agree that breastfeeding is natural and beautiful and we’re glad to know that it’s important for mothers to share their experiences with others on Facebook. The vast majority of these photos are compliant with our policies.”
The social network also points out that pictures are usually removed in response to complaints made by its users saying, “Please note that the photos we review are almost exclusively brought to our attention by other Facebook members who complain about them being shared on Facebook.” People who have tested the new policy have discovered that such pictures are not being removed, even after complaints.
Parenting blogger Paala Secor who has posted her own breastfeeding pictures on Facebook said, “Seeing breastfeeding is important, as is being able to share those images without fear of scorn or deletion. Facebook has finally updated their policy regarding breastfeeding images. They now match most state laws that specifically allow nipple exposure during breastfeeding. Exposure during breastfeeding doesn’t constitute indecent exposure. Why is this important? Basically, Facebook is slowly but surely realizing that women, or at least breastfeeding mothers at this time, are allowed to live in their own skin and share images of themselves topless (and breastfeeding) without being deleted for nudity.”
In 2012, Facebook was ridiculed after it banned the page for The New Yorker Cartoons because of a black and white cartoon which depicted a shirtless Adam and Eve, in which Eve’s breasts were shown. This was done, even though, the nipple in question was merely a black dot.
That page was restored after many complaints. A Facebook spokesman said in an e mail last Friday, “It is very hard to consistently make the right call on every photo that may or may not contain nudity that is reported to us.”