Breastfeeding mothers who claim that Facebook is treating them like pornographers protested in front of Facebook headquarters in downtown Palo Alto on Saturday, Dec. 27.
Mothers International Lactation Campaign (MILC), a group of "lactivists," staged the protest because Facebook has been removing pictures of the mothers breastfeeding their babies, according to Heather Farley, a Provo, Utah mom and protest organizer.
Nearly a dozen mothers breastfed their babies at the Facebook site, along with support form at least one Raging Granny, who provided an appropriately themed protest song.
In November, Farley posted as her profile picture an image of breastfeeding her 6-month-old daughter, but Facebook removed the photo, saying that Farley had violated the company's terms-of-use agreement.
A second photo Farley posted was also removed in late November, but Farley said she never received a response to two e-mails she sent asking for an explanation.
More than 11,000 women were scheduled to take down their normal profile mages and post breastfeeding photos, artist renderings and pictures of the Madonna and child during the Palo Alto nurse-in, but Farley didn't know how many actually did so, she said.
The mothers' ultimate goal is to have Facebook add a clause to their agreement allowing breastfeeding photos, similar to the policy change enacted by LiveJournal.com in 2006, she said.
Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt said in a written satement that Facebook does not allow photos with a visible nipple or areola but the company takes no action on breastfeeding photos unless other users complain.
One user did complain that Farley's images were obscene before Facebook took them down, but Farley said her nipple and areola were not exposed in the photos and only the curvature of her breast showed.
Farley said she is basing her viewpoint that breastfeeding is not obscene -- regardless of what part of the breast is exposed -- on Utah law. If Utah and other states do not regard breastfeeding as obscene, Facebook shouldn't either, she said.
"In Utah state law, breastfeeding does not constitute being obscene if any part of the breast is exposed. Breastfeeding is not obscene period," she said.