Facebook apology over deleted breastfeeding pics
Facebook has a blanket policy of removing photo rudeness from its pages, as many a naughty user has discovered: images considered 'offensive' are simply deleted and purged, no questions asked. Recently however, the rule seems to have become more and more draconian, and the latest group to suffer unfair censorship on the site is an NHS-backed breastfeeding group called Express Yourself Mums.
A group for women who like to talk breastfeeding online, EYM has over 700 regular members, each of whom post their stories, pictures and musings on the internet's favourite debating topic: breastfeeding in public. All seemed fine until one user, Sharon Blackstone, posted an image of her young daughter pretending to breastfeed a doll. The image disappeared overnight, flagged by Facebook's indecency policy which is intended to be brought in for cases of nudity and obscenity. Blackstone, of North London, said to the Guardian:
"Like many mums, I got out my phone and took a picture because I thought it was a sweet moment. I shared it with the 600 other mothers on our Facebook page because I thought it was something they'd like to see. After all, don't millions of people post cute pictures of their kids on Facebook?
"A few minutes later, my business partner Carly
Silver also posted a similar shot of her seven-year-old daughter Izzy
cradling her baby doll in her arms. Afterwards, about 15 mums
posted messages saying they loved them. Only one mum said she didn't
like them because they might be seen by questionable people."
Facebook quickly responded with an apology after a pressure group of around 400 users complained, and the images were re-posted on the EYM page along with some other banned images including an older child being fed.
This isn't the first time that a social network has responded a little too heavy-handedly to innocent information that looks to be 'bad content' on a very superficial reading: Facebook previously had to apologise to an abortion rights organisation for deleting standard advice on termination that it had posted on the site, while blogging network Livejournal upset much of its userbase in what became known as Strikethrough 2007, when hundreds of accounts that had mentioned sensitive words or phrases were suspended. The words were, of course, taken completely out of context.
What do you think: was Facebook wrong to remove the pictures or could they invite the wrong sort of attention?