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Facebook’s breastfeeding photo ban stokes new protests

Years after nursing moms first complained about getting their accounts deleted over breastfeeding pics, the ban continues.


Lauren Rae Orsini


Posted on Feb 6, 2012   Updated on Jun 2, 2021, 9:49 pm CDT

The censors at Facebook headquarters seem so captivated by women’s sexuality that they seem to have forgotten that bared breasts have a practical purpose: breastfeeding.

Since its own infancy, the social network has been flagging and removing accounts where it finds photos of infants nursing, based on its policies against their mothers’ showing their flesh.

Four years later, mothers and breastfeeding advocates are fed up. To protest, they’re holding a nurse-in live at Facebook’s offices in Menlo Park, Calif., and around the world, and they’re using Facebook to organize it.

The nurse-in will take place today and Feb. 7 in Facebook offices located all over the world. In New York, 45 mothers are attending today’s protest, 67 will be nursing tomorrow at the Sydney, Australia Facebook office.

A Facebook group called FB! Stop harassing Emma Kwasnica over her breastfeeding pics is organizing the event, and has more than 6,000 members. Similar groups have formed over the years to protest Facebook’s breastfeeding ban.

Kwasnica told the San Francisco Chronicle that her Facebook account has been shut down four times, once for a month. About 30 of the Vancouver mom’s breastfeeding photos have been flagged for indecency.

“This is discrimination. There’s no other way to look at it. We’re being treated as pornographers,” she told the newspaper.

After her account was most recently shut down, two weeks ago, Kwasnica told the Huffington Post she had had enough and began organizing the nurse-in. Though her Facebook account is live again, she has not forgiven the censors.

Public breastfeeding is legal under U.S. law, and nursing mothers are not even required to cover up with a blanket.

Facebook’s own rules have shifted over the years. At one point, they forbade “sexually explicit” or “obscene” content, which riled up nursing mothers who did not view their breastfeeding as such.

Currently, the site’s terms of service simply prohibit “nudity” in uploaded content, which may explain the continued removal of breastfeeding photos.

A mother of three, Kwasnica hopes the protests are just the beginning. She told the San Francisco Chronicle that she wants to be able to share this natural part of her day on the social network.

“People share their whole days on Facebook, when they’re eating, where they’re eating, pictures of them feeding their kids spaghetti. We just see this as feeding our children,” she told them.

Photo by muskva

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*First Published: Feb 6, 2012, 4:40 pm CST