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Facebook Policy Angers Nursing Moms
Posted 1/2/09 , edited 1/2/09
http://news.aol.com/article/facebook-policy-angers-nursing-moms/291439

(Jan. 1) - Web-savvy moms who breast-feed are irate that social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace restrict photos of nursing babies. The disputes reveal how the sites' community policing techniques sometimes struggle to keep up with the booming number and diversity of their members.

Facebook began as a site just for college kids, but now it is an online home for 140 million people from all over the world. Among the new faces of Facebook are women like Kelli Roman, 23, who last year posted a photo of herself nursing one of her two children.

One day, she logged on to find the photo missing. When she pressed Facebook for an explanation, she got form e-mails in return.

Facebook bars people from uploading anything "obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit" — a policy that translates into a ban on pictures depicting certain amounts of exposed flesh.

Roman responded by starting a Facebook group called "Hey, Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!"

"There is nothing about bottle-feeding a child that has to be discreet," said Roman, who lives in Fallbrook, Calif., in an interview. "With breast-feeding, it should be the exact same way."

Today the group — part petition, part message board, part photo-sharing hub — has more than 97,600 members.

One of them, Stephanie Muir of Ottawa, was new to Facebook when she stumbled across the group last year. Muir, a mother of five, does volunteer work related to public health and breast-feeding and said the issue is important to her.

"I think it's time we all get over this notion that women's breasts are dangerous and harmful for children to see," she said. So she organized a Facebook protest last weekend against the site's policies, which she believes are arbitrarily enforced and discriminate against women.

Muir said more than 11,000 people participated in the group's "virtual nurse-in" by swapping out their regular profile pictures on Facebook and uploading ones depicting breast-feeding.

At Facebook's headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., 23-year-old mom Heather Farley, who was visiting from her home in Provo, Utah, led a real-world nurse-in to complement the online event. About 10 women showed up to breast-feed their babies outside the front door, drawing attention from local media if not Facebook employees, who were scarce on that Saturday after Christmas.

A member for almost four years, Farley has nearly 400 friends on Facebook, a network she'd be hard-pressed to replicate if she moved to a smaller site with more lenient photo policies. She uses Facebook more than e-mail to stay in touch with far-flung high school and college friends. She especially likes to check out pictures of their babies and share photos of hers. But with a 9-month-old, "it's almost hard to get a picture of me not nursing," she said.

Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt said the company's guidelines regarding exposed flesh allow most breast-feeding photos. However, Facebook draws the line at a visible nipple or areola, he said. Facebook also nixes pictures showing the gluteal cleft.

"We decided nudity was something we didn't want on the site. It doesn't matter the context. We would agree that there are absolutely many contexts for nudity where it is not obscene," Schnitt said, but emphasized that Facebook can't practically convene a panel to decide on a case-by-case basis.

John Palfrey, a Harvard Law School professor who specializes in Internet issues, called Facebook a victim of its own success.

"As we wrap more and more of our lives into a single environment on the Web, the feeling that civil liberties ought to be protected there continues to grow," Palfrey said.

But it's really just that — a feeling. Online hangouts might simulate a public place, but they're still private Web sites where the company is king, not the Constitution or the myriad state laws that apply to breast-feeding outside the home.

News Corp.-owned MySpace, which prohibits nudity, also has sparked online protests over photos taken down of breast-feeding mothers. A company spokeswoman did not return messages seeking comment.

One contrast is LiveJournal, a popular blogging network, which made an exception for nursing in its no-nudity policy. The rule came in response to feedback from users and an advisory board comprised of Internet scholars.

While Schnitt said Facebook's policies predate a recent push by law enforcement agencies to better protect children from online predators, the whole field of Web hangouts may be skittish about anything that might expose kids to nudity, said Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney at the free-speech watchdog group Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Facebook already curtails the activities of some members based on age and the networks they belong to. For example, adults can't look at profiles of kids under the age of 18, even if they're members of the same regional network.

Palfrey suggests a middle ground might emerge, in which networking sites like Facebook can better satisfy diverse constituencies without creating strife. That will require honing the technology to make it more certain that only people within specific networks and groups could see, say, a breast-feeding photo, while keeping children from seeing nudity.

Palfrey describes the goal as making "a site that is good for everyone, or good for the largest number of people, rather than the fewest."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

2009-01-01 14:46:37
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No offense, and this may sound rude, but I don't think breast feeding should be shown anywhere. That should be done in the privacy of your home, I don't care how beautiful it is, your nipple is still hanging out and no one wants to see it.

"There is nothing about bottle-feeding a child that has to be discreet," said Roman, who lives in Fallbrook, Calif., in an interview. "With breast-feeding, it should be the exact same way."

Uh lady, that's why people pump the breast milk into the bottle, so we won't have to see it. There maybe a baby on it, but it's still not cute.


Posted 1/2/09
i'm fucking mad. now face book is boring without tits. oh well theres always mindless teenage girls in myspace flashing some skin
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21 / F / Canada♥
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Posted 1/2/09
That's disgusting D:
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Posted 1/2/09 , edited 1/2/09
Uhmmm...
like people really want to see your kid sucking on your tit :|

Fucking stupid -.-
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Posted 1/2/09
=/
Gross.
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Posted 1/2/09
lol well none of my friends on facebook are over 20 anyways, so i didn't even know this was an issue.

the truth is not everyone is comfortable with nudity. some people have no problem with it since it's natural, but many others just don't want to see that shit. that's why you always see warnings like don't upload nude photos.
Posted 1/2/09
This is an outrage. The internet wants more mommy-boobies.
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Posted 1/2/09 , edited 1/2/09
nobody want to see your kids suck your fat misshapen tits, gtfo new mothers.
Posted 1/2/09
This is a problem that is life threatening to such a large percent of the population of the world; I'm so glad that someone created a thread about it so we can get philosophically and intellectually get to the bottom of this delicate subject: Do mommy-boobies count as boobies? Facebook thinks so, mommies don't, FIGHT!
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23 / M / Australia
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Posted 1/2/09
when my sister had her baby THE ONE THING i was thinking was when i go over to her house for the first time I WILL MAKE SURE i do not look when she is breastfeeding her baby. i walk in say hello to my bro in law. looks like she is sitting there just holding him THEN his head moves and i see her nipple lol i can't believe that happened lol
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23 / M / (Unknown)
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Posted 1/2/09
...Why do moms wanna put pictures of themselves nursing their children online anyways? I know it's to show that they care for their children, but there are other ways. And if they just wanna support breast-feeding, then might as well just put one of those signs that support that.
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Posted 1/2/09
if a guy gets turned on with such scenario, i say, "wtf?! you've got to be kidding me?"
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Posted 1/2/09
gross and f*cking stupid.
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M / Brooklyn
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Posted 1/7/09
why would post picture of themselves breastfeeding
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37 / F / Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
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Posted 1/7/09
I don't get it. If the baby was breast-feeding, all you would see is the side of her breast- maybe. Otherwise, it sounds like a sweet and maternal image to me: I mean, breast ARE designed to feed babies, so what's weird about taking a picture of a woman holding and feeding her baby? That's not exactly a sexual image- unless you're a bit perverted.

What irritates me is all of the very explicit sexual images I DO come across, especially on MySpace, and they never get taken down. Weird.
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