News

Nursing moms protest Facebook censorship

Facebook says it takes no action on breastfeeding photos unless other users complain

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.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Palo Alto Online for as little as $5/month.

Join

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.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

"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.

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Nursing moms protest Facebook censorship

Facebook says it takes no action on breastfeeding photos unless other users complain

by / Palo Alto Online

Uploaded: Mon, Dec 29, 2008, 10:03 am

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.

Comments

kangaroo
Palo Verde
on Dec 29, 2008 at 10:27 am
kangaroo, Palo Verde
on Dec 29, 2008 at 10:27 am

Ladies, pick your fights for God's sake! There's people dying overseas, the threat of off-shore drilling, hunger, bad economy, and you protest your breastfeeding pix? Come on. Guess this is just another example of a bored Utah housewife.


Donald
Stanford
on Dec 29, 2008 at 10:56 am
Donald, Stanford
on Dec 29, 2008 at 10:56 am

It's not much of a protest if there are more journalists than protesters at the event.


wallaby
St. Claire Gardens
on Dec 29, 2008 at 11:00 am
wallaby, St. Claire Gardens
on Dec 29, 2008 at 11:00 am

It was funny to see that the women potesting are actually gran mas whose body clock got turned off half a century ago.
How about looking for job for a change?


UTAH?
Walter Hays School
on Dec 29, 2008 at 11:10 am
UTAH?, Walter Hays School
on Dec 29, 2008 at 11:10 am

Wait a minute...can't they(people fom Utah) just leave well enough alone? These folks from the land of Mormon are getting into all kinds of Cali bussiness.
First, they take over the Prop. 8 campaign and meddle in California gay issues, then this?
I think these folk just need a life out there in Utah. Perhaps the canning and pantry provisions and beehiving just aren't fulfilling enough.
Well, here it is loud and clear from a NATIVE CALIFORNIAN "Hey Utah, mind your own business!"
Guess what happens when the henhouse isn't being watched...that's right, the foxes come in. Mind your own business and I won't start a crusade for Gays to move to Utah and "ruin" your perfect little place.
Deal?


Brent Allsop
another community
on Dec 29, 2008 at 11:37 am
Brent Allsop, another community
on Dec 29, 2008 at 11:37 am

An effective way to help protest such issues is creating a petition like topic at

Web Link

Wouldn't it be great to know concisely and quantitatively what everyone thinks about these kinds of things?



Re
South of Midtown
on Dec 29, 2008 at 11:48 am
Re, South of Midtown
on Dec 29, 2008 at 11:48 am

I'm all about breastfeeding, it's natural. But come on. Of all photos these mothers can put on their Facebook, why choose these? Why not a picture of you holding and playing with your baby? Him or her sleeping? It's natural -- but so is birth and i don't want that as your profile pic either!
The last thing i wanted to do when breastfeeding was pose for photos, let alone show the photos to my closest 800 friends.


Donald
Stanford
on Dec 29, 2008 at 12:26 pm
Donald, Stanford
on Dec 29, 2008 at 12:26 pm

We should be happy that those Utah people are wasting their time on issues like this instead of attacking the civil rights of minority groups (like they did last month).


not a grandma
Midtown
on Dec 29, 2008 at 1:26 pm
not a grandma, Midtown
on Dec 29, 2008 at 1:26 pm

I am a young mother and I'm still breastfeeding my 2 1/2 year old. I never planned to nurse this long, but following the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics AND the World Health Organization, I set my nursing goal at 2 years and thereafter as long as mutually desired. We are slowly weaning, and I have pictures of myself breastfeeding him from when he was born up until now. I even have some on facebook where you can see some breast but no nipples. I post them because breastfeeding is a big part of my life. I'm not trying to offend anyone. Many people think breastfeeding is a beautiful thing and enjoy seeing pictures of it, and those who don't can just avoid those pictures on facebook.

I find the pictures on my facebook much less obscene than those on my friends' facebooks of pot smoking and underage drinking. I think pictures of me breastfeeding are more appropriate than pictures of girls with their breasts falling out of their tight tops. It's wrong for facebook to decide that some pictures are immoral and others not.


Mom of 3
Palo Alto High School
on Dec 29, 2008 at 1:29 pm
Mom of 3, Palo Alto High School
on Dec 29, 2008 at 1:29 pm

I breastfed mine until they were 2-3 years old and wish more people would breastfeed at least for some of the first year.

Although I believe in promoting breastfeeding, forceful promotion is not going to help. They say it is natural, but intercourse is natural too and some people don't want those photos posted.

Remove the breastfeeding photos. Seeing photos is not going to make it more acceptable to breastfeed in public. No one wants to see it, including me.


Big Al
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 29, 2008 at 1:35 pm
Big Al, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 29, 2008 at 1:35 pm

Sheesh!
I didn't know that women could
breast feed dogs too. Isn't this getting
a little close to bestiality?


beep boop
Palo Verde
on Dec 29, 2008 at 1:41 pm
beep boop, Palo Verde
on Dec 29, 2008 at 1:41 pm

Mom of 3-

If you don't want to look at pictures of breastfeeding, DON'T LOOK AT THEM. Some people are uncomfortable seeing pictures of people kissing. DON'T LOOK AT THEM. First pictures of breastfeeding are removed, and then what? Pictures of babies in diapers? Pictures of women in bikinis? Who are we protecting by removing the pictures? Your eyes? Protect your own eyes and don't look.

I don't think people are posting pictures to push a breastfeeding agenda. People are probably posting them because it is a big part of their life, they are proud of themselves for making that choice, and they think it's a beautiful thing that they would like to share with others.

I don't like looking at pictures of morbidly obese people, but I still think they should be allowed on facebook.


Big Al
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 29, 2008 at 1:46 pm
Big Al, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 29, 2008 at 1:46 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Nurse
another community
on Dec 29, 2008 at 2:05 pm
Nurse, another community
on Dec 29, 2008 at 2:05 pm

Breastfeeding provides the ultimate nourishment and nurturing to a growing baby. In the interest of healthy families, this practice should be promoted and presented anywhere and everywhere families are welcome.

I deeply appreciate the times I have been nursing my son and a grandmotherly person has conveyed her support of my mothering. How clearly the generations are connected!

Many thanks for every effort made on behalf of nursing babies their and mothers.


anonymous
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 29, 2008 at 2:51 pm
anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 29, 2008 at 2:51 pm

Interesting how - not suprisingly - this has changed into posts about how great it is to breastfeed. That isn't the point!
Putting pictures of oneself nursing onto Facebook/similar are just plain exhibitionist and utter nonsense. What a time we live in...


beep boop
Palo Verde
on Dec 29, 2008 at 2:59 pm
beep boop, Palo Verde
on Dec 29, 2008 at 2:59 pm

Big Al,

Since when has raising the future generations of our country not been considered "a life"?

Many mothers choose to feed their children formula, an inferior and manufactured product. Breastfeeding is absolutely a choice, and one people should be proud of making. Your body has to poop, you don't exactly have a choice, so nothing really to be proud of. To choose to nourish your child with something filled with something nature made exclusively for them to drink may seem like a no brainer, but so many women choose NOT to do so, that it has become a choice women can be proud of making.

Everyone knows breastfeeding is great, obviously this isn't about that. How is a picture of breastfeeding a child different from a picture of a women in a bikini if you cannot see any nipple? Oh, I know, I know! Because one of them is designed to attract sexual attention and the other is not but is often perceived that way by a society obsessed with sexualizing women's breasts.


Brigham
another community
on Dec 29, 2008 at 6:07 pm
Brigham, another community
on Dec 29, 2008 at 6:07 pm

Utah?,
Whatever the issue, you need to check yourself out and see if you are Utah-phobic!

I guess folks in Utah could consider to not 'meddle in California gay issues' (or other California issues) if folks in California would not send money and California people to other states to affect issues there. i.e. the recent election. Seem fair?


Moms get over yourselves
East Palo Alto
on Dec 29, 2008 at 6:25 pm
Moms get over yourselves, East Palo Alto
on Dec 29, 2008 at 6:25 pm

I for one do not want to look at breastfeeding photos and think it is fine that people find it objectionable and therefore have the pics removed. A protest is way over the top. How many women ended up with their photos removed and how many at the protest...not that many. Puhlease.


OhlonePar
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 30, 2008 at 12:00 am
OhlonePar, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 30, 2008 at 12:00 am

About Facebook--the pictures wouldn't be available to just anyone, but to "friends"--isn't that the point of Facebook? Friends who presumably can deal with seeing a pix of a baby eating.

Nursing is NOT sexual. If our culture fetishized breasts less, this would be a nonissue.


Big Al
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 30, 2008 at 7:05 am
Big Al, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 30, 2008 at 7:05 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


andrew
Midtown
on Dec 30, 2008 at 9:14 am
andrew, Midtown
on Dec 30, 2008 at 9:14 am

Why would anyone want to post breast feeding pictures? It is as if they are proud of this as it is supposed to be some kind of accomplishment. Breast feeding has been going on for as long as Humans (and other mamals have existed) it is no more an accomplishment to be proud of as any other body function is.
Children can still be breast fed without posting it to the internet. In fact many things can be done without posting to the internet.


UTAH?
Walter Hays School
on Dec 30, 2008 at 10:20 am
UTAH?, Walter Hays School
on Dec 30, 2008 at 10:20 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Mom from Silicon Valley
Walter Hays School
on Dec 30, 2008 at 11:31 am
Mom from Silicon Valley, Walter Hays School
on Dec 30, 2008 at 11:31 am

big al + andrew probably weren't breastfed, + may have "mommy issues"

breastfeeding is the healthiest psychologically + physically nourishing + bonding investment in individuals and thus the world. if more people were breastfed a year or two, we'd have less of all the other problems in the world.

breastfeeding is a heroic accomplishment in a society that doesn't respect or appreciate the sacrifices involved in persevering in attending to the needs of a new person in a quality long-term way rather than an instant gratification/disposable way. human life expectancy is over 100 years. 1 or 2 years of human mother's milk that is specifically produced and modified every day for that human being administered by their own attentive mother is the ideal that should be revered.
Cow milk is for cow babies. Formula from cows or soy can not reproduce all the human milk properties a baby needs, especially the immune protection of the mother that is passed through the mother's milk.


Moms get over yourselves!
East Palo Alto
on Dec 30, 2008 at 3:12 pm
Moms get over yourselves!, East Palo Alto
on Dec 30, 2008 at 3:12 pm

Heroic? Puhlease. Besides, this discussion is about the protest of Facebook pics of breastfeeding. Tempest in a teapot! Or, milk in a teat. Move on!


OhlonePar
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 31, 2008 at 2:02 pm
OhlonePar, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 31, 2008 at 2:02 pm

Andrew,

Why do you need to know why someone wants to post a particular picture? I mean, I don't get why teens post pix of themselves drinking. If nursing's not obscene then posting pix of it should be a nonissue. *You* shouldn't care. Why do you care?

The sexualizing in our culture of the breast to the point of feeling uneasy when it's used to sustain the life of our young is not a small issue--but gets to a basic problem in our culture. It is one of those things that makes it difficult for women to nurse--particularly for any length of time. This is a health issue as breastfeeding has long-term health benefits for both the mother and child.

Personally, I'll always have a warm spot for Nordstrom having a truly pleasant nursing room.


bruce
Crescent Park
on Jan 1, 2009 at 11:10 pm
bruce, Crescent Park
on Jan 1, 2009 at 11:10 pm

Have to agree with anonymous above, this is not about the merits of beastfeeding, or the naturalness of any human function, or "the children", it is about posting a picture in public being hosted by a company that gets to decide its down rules and terms of use. Some restaurants ask people to wear ties, and if I don't want to wear a tie, I don't go there.

Butchering cows sustains our culture as well OhlonePar, but I would not want to see a picture of that either. Kudos to Nordstrom's then for having a nursing room ... does it have a window so people can see it? It is important to test and stretch boundaries and keep an open mind, but not every act of silliness or rebellion is progress.


TwoSides
South of Midtown
on Jan 2, 2009 at 9:50 pm
TwoSides, South of Midtown
on Jan 2, 2009 at 9:50 pm

Oh for God's sake people (and Facebook), GROW UP. If you don't like what you are looking at, change the page! Breast feeding is a normal, natural act. I had to waitress my way through college. Anyone ever really watch other people eat? Ever watch YOURSELF eat? I guarantee it's a lot more disgusting than a baby breastfeeding. Yet, most of you do THAT in public. Such juvenile prudish attitudes toward a partially exposed breast. Want to see something REALLY disgusting? Find out a way to get on your childs MySpace or Facebook page and see what these under 18's are doing....breastfeeding pales to nothing compared to that.


RS
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 2, 2009 at 11:18 pm
RS, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 2, 2009 at 11:18 pm

"the pictures wouldn't be available to just anyone, but to "friends""

Actually not true, they are "profile" pictures and as such they are visable to all.

I think facebook has a right to choose what they want to allow and restrict. Just like PAonline does.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 3, 2009 at 9:40 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 3, 2009 at 9:40 am

RS

Profile pictures are so tiny that you can barely see the face well enough to see the identity of the person - let alone whether or not there is a bare boob with a baby feeding. Facebook must have someone with a very large screen looking very closely to see if there is a profile picture of someone breastfeeding. Think about it. At that size picture, people could be doing all sorts of things in their pictures but the size of the picture means that we just don't know.

Just go look at fb profile pictures of people you don't know and see what I mean.


RS
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 3, 2009 at 10:16 am
RS, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 3, 2009 at 10:16 am

I can see full size profile pictures of some people I have not friended when they have default facebook security settings.

My main point is facebook gets to choose, its their web site. Frankly I dont care if the pictures are there or not. I just think its facebook's right to decide.


John the Man
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 3, 2009 at 11:25 am
John the Man, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 3, 2009 at 11:25 am

Hmmm... last time I checked, Facebook is a non-public organization that can set its own standards for what it will allow to be published through it. Don't like it? Start your own web presence.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.