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9/27/2007
Facebook Sucks
justpostsept2007

I've been a bad bloggy friend lately, I know. I've been awfully busy at work and I have some other things brewing with the DC Metro Moms Blog (more on that below), so I haven't been visiting all of my blog friends regularly. I actually had to take drastic measures and mark the 205 (!) unread blog posts I had sitting in Bloglines as already read.

Please forgive me?


Now on to another rant:


Many people weighed in on the Bill Maher breastfeeding equals masturbation debate last week. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Only by discussing issues like this will we change public perception. In my post, I mentioned that Facebook had been deleting photos of breastfeeding women. You may have even seen the nifty "Facebook Sucks" buttons that have been popping up all over the Blogosphere.

Maybe Facebook has had enough thrashing for the year, but I'm not done yet.

David Westcott of It's Not A Lecture was the first blogger to bring the Facebook fiasco to my attention. In his initial post he pointed out that not only has Facebook pulled breastfeeding pictures from its site, it also banned one woman for life apparently because of her repeated and flagrant violation of Facebook's policies. I'm guessing that she continued to put up breastfeeding pictures. In fact, if you'd like to see the pictures that started it all, go here. (Thank you, Izzy, for the link!)

But wait, there's more. In David's post he pointed to something the Canadian media has picked up on. While Facebook apparently considers breastfeeding photos a violation of its Terms of Service, it permits some 300 pro-anorexia groups on Facebook. In these groups, women exchange tips on how to starve themselves and post pictures. Photos of themselves in an emaciated state.

Seriously.

These are a few of the groups that I found in a few searches on Facebook:

Karen Carpenter: Patron Saint of Anorexia
the "you know you want to be pro-ana really" society
Anorexia is NOT a disease, It's a LIFESTYLE
Get Thin or Die Trying
Us Size 0, UK Size 4
Size 0 to Hero

This is only a small number of the groups I found.

Now let's talk about why Facebook says it removed the breastfeeding photos.

David emailed Facebook and asked them about it. You can read his follow up post about his email exchange with Facebook here. Please go read the emails. They're awfully enlightening. Here's part of what Facebook had to say:
Facebook does allow mothers to upload and share photos of themselves breastfeeding their babies, and those photos remain available on Facebook as long as they follow the site’s Terms of Use. Photos containing a fully exposed breast do violate those Terms and could be removed.
(Emphasis added by me.) Basically what it comes down to is, Facebook says the breastfeeding photos violate its Terms of Use if they contain "a fully exposed breast." OK, so let's see what Facebook's Terms of Use really do say. (I'm going to repeat some of what I said in David's comments.)

Under the Terms of Use, users agree not to:
upload, post, transmit, share, store or otherwise make available any content that we deem to be harmful, threatening, unlawful, defamatory, infringing, abusive, inflammatory, harassing, vulgar, obscene, fraudulent, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable;
(Emphasis added by me.) See anything about partial nudity or even full nudity or exposed breasts? Nope? Me neither. But Facebook's Terms of Use also refer to its Code of Conduct. So let's check that, shall we.

The Code of Conduct says this about Inappropriate Conduct:
While we believe users should be able to express themselves and their point of view, certain kinds of speech simply do not belong in a community like Facebook. Therefore, you may not post or share Content that:

* is obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit
* depicts graphic or gratuitous violence
* makes threats of any kind or that intimidates, harasses, or bullies anyone
* is derogatory, demeaning, malicious, defamatory, abusive, offensive or hateful
Honestly, I don't see how even a fully exposed breast (if one happened to be exposed during breastfeeding) could fall under Facebook's Terms of Use or its Code of Conduct unless company policy makes it so, unless "we" meaning Facebook deems it so. That's exactly what the Terms of Use say. It prohibits content that "we [meaning Facebook] deem to be [...] obscene [...] or otherwise objectionable."

That's what it comes down to, folks. Someone at Facebook made a policy decision that a breastfeeding photo is obscene or otherwise objectionable.

But pro-ana groups. Those are peachy keen. Here I give you another excerpt from David's email exchange with Facebook. When David pressed Facebook on the issue of pro-ana groups, here's what they had to say:
Facebook supports the free flow of information, and groups provide a forum for discussing important issues. Many Facebook groups relate to controversial topics; this alone is not a reason to disable a group. Facebook considers whether the content on wall posts and discussion boards of groups offer opinions on both sides of the issue. In cases where content is reported and found to violate the site’s Terms of Use, Facebook will remove it.
So breastfeeding = obscene or otherwise objectionable.

Pro-ana groups = "free flow of information" or "forum for discussing important issues."

Even though under Facebook's Terms of Use, I think a pro-ana group could definitely be considered harmful or otherwise objectionable, even without Facebook exercising its "discretion."

Dr. Leigh Ann Simmons, David's wife, wrote a wonderful post discussing one of the not so obvious problems with pro-ana sites. She points to a study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders that found that women feel heavier and less confident about themselves after viewing pro-ana websites.

So not only can the pro-ana Facebook groups help girls and women harm themselves physically, it can also harm them psychologically. My guess is that a teenager struggling with an eating disorder is certainly not going to receive positive help and support from a pro-ana website.

Facebook has a lot of explaining to do.

Today David let me know that, earlier this week, the For Immediate Release podcast (according to David, the top social PR podcast in the industry) discussed the Facebook breastfeeding/pro-ana debate and David's post. In it, they mention me and Izzy and quote our comments from David's blog. Here's a direct link to the MP3. The discussion is about 1/4 of the way into the show and lasts for about 5 minutes. When they talk about the lawyer who commented on David's post and read all the legalese you saw above? That's me. Thanks for the heads up, David!

*************
In other news, there are some exciting things happening for the SV Moms Blog, Chicago Moms Blog, and DC Metro Moms Blog posters. Elizabeth Edwards is meeting with the SV Moms on Saturday in California. Chicago Moms and DC Moms will be participating by conference call and apparently, the word is that Ms. Edwards would like to meet with the Chicago and DC Moms in person as well. I'm so excited I could pee myself! I'm glad someone is listening.

To continue this trend and to ensure that moms can participate in a serious discussion of the issues in the next election, we're going to try something a little new at the SV/Chicago/DC Metro Moms Blogs. Next Thursday, we'll all be posting about an important issue - health care. I've heard BlogHers Act is going to get involved and post about the issue too. If we get some good feedback, I'd like to do it every few weeks and hit as many social and political issues as we can. Check back for further details later on but I'm really excited about having the opportunity to speak up and have a great discussion. If any of you would like to participate, email me at lawyermama at gmail dot come and I'll give you more details.

I also have a new review of Phonics 4 Babies over at Lawyer Mama Review.

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28 Comments:

Blogger Moondance said...

So the legacy of Justice Stewart lives on in, of all places, Facebook adminstration. I am reminded of a line from the 1980s movie "The Big Chill:" "We thought that because they look like us, and they talk like us, that they must think like us." I am continually surprise by people who find obscenity in the oddest places (i.e., anything involving nudity), but have no problem with the gratuitous violence that is ubiquitous in our entertainment.

I get it - people are uncomfortable with public nudity, and many people cannot grasp the concept of the breast as anything but a sexual symbol, but cooler heads should have evaluated that decision.

Blogger Mamma said...

Girl! I'm exhausted just reading that all.

I'm trying to figure out what to write on health care.

I think I'm more about firing people up than actually getting to the substance. Yep! I'm a big fraud.

Blogger flutter said...

And THAT is why you are an attorney

Blogger Alpha DogMa said...

Good job, LM. I find it disgusting that people actually propagate anorexia. It is like having a group that encourages alcoholism or drug addiction.

Has anyone tracked down an email address for Facebook? If you go through the help screens you can get to a vague 'leave us a message' type screen, but no actual email address. Because it would be nice to bring the matter directly to them - since so many blogs are on fire with this topic.

Good luck with Ms. Edwards! Make us proud.

After reading even more about the Facebook crap, I'm so glad I got rid of my account now.

Blogger PunditMom said...

Now that's a post written by a lawyer -- that's a compliment! Such a great idea on the health care post for next Thursday!

Blogger Magpie said...

Great post.

Anonymous PT-LawMom said...

I have a Facebook account and haven't left yet because I use it to communicate with much younger family members. I hate MySpace and refuse to use it, but thought Facebook was fairly innocuous. They have a group devoted to this issue, but, oddly enough, when I click on "Join Group", nothing happens... Conspiracy anyone? In the interim, I've posted a link to the original article on my page and put in my status "On strike from Facebook until they stop discriminating against breastfeeding mothers."

Blogger Julie Pippert said...

Well, you know what I think about this breastfeeding hoopla.

Great post!

You know, the comparison of anorexia to breastfeeding kind of has me shaking my head a little, which is why I didn't address it in my own post on this issue.

I'd so much rather discuss the photos I have PERSONALLY seen on Facebook which reveal AS MUCH BREAST as breastfeeding (in the photos I've seen of that).

If you read Dad Gone Mad, you'll see he recently tackled The Blur. He watches those medical shows that the girls and I watch and he was amused to note that a male nipple was happily displayed on TV, but the female nipple, even in surgery, was blurred out.

I stand by my point in my post about this issue: it's not the breast, it's the breastfeeding. Facebook people are skeeved. They don't mind---or may not even notice!---the boobs hanging out of bikini tops or low cut shirts. But oh, a breast AT WORK. Skeeve.

It's appalling, truly.

Julie
Using My Words

Anonymous Mishel said...

Took me awhile to figure out just what I wanted to say on this subject. Here goes: before I had my son I can honestly say that yes I didn't care to see someone's boob while they were breastfeeding and I was eating/shopping/whatever. If they were discreet then it didn't matter to me but I just didn't want to see a boob while I was eating my dinner/shopping/whatever. I know, this is rather insensitive but at the time I was married w/no kids and didn't know when I was having any so it never occured to me to change my thinking to anything other than what I was thinking. Then I became a mother and b/c my husband and I agreed I would breastfeed, and OMG it's so cheap!, I changed my views. I breastfed him in so many places that it became: I'll be damned if anyone tells me I can't feed my son when this is the ONLY way I feed him. Now that he no longer nurses my attitude is still that. Thinking about baby #2 now and I'll be the same way w/him or her. If I am being discreet and no one can honestly see anything, whether I cover up or not, then what does it matter. If I'm out to dinner and he needs to eat then why shouldn't I be able to feed him. He needs to eat too doesn't he? Again, I know before I had my son my way of thinking was not the best but in my defense I was young, childless, and at the time it was all about me. Now that I have a son I am not so young, I am no longer childless, and it's all about him. So for those who don't like the fact that women breastfeed in public, covered up or not, I say to them: get over it. This is a way of life, the only way for some, and what do they think was happening years and years ago? How about before formula was made? I doubt anyone thought the way some people do now or if they did it wasn't made into such a big deal. I have a right to eat/shop/sit/whatever just like anyone else. So what if there is a kid on my boob? I did this flying and I'll be damned no one said anything to me. Sorry this is so long but I just had to say something and get this off my chest. Ha-ha! That last part was funny...to me at least:) OH! And if I so choose to take pictures of this and post them and you can't see anything that you wouldn't be able to see on TV, in a museum, on the internet just surfing, then I will. It's a beautiful thing to do and to look back on when you no longer nurse.

Anonymous Redneck Mommy said...

Still pisses me off everytime I read about it.

Makes me wish I had a pic of my kids breastfeeding. I'd email it to ole Bill.

With a polite note attached, of course. Wink, wink.

Blogger Mad Hatter said...

Yo, you rock, LM. BTW, did you see those Italian Billboards that are trying to stem anorexia in models? Scary.

Anonymous slackermommy said...

What I'm confused about is why facebook finds a breastfeeding photo where no breast tissue is showing is considered offensive but yet a photo of a woman who has a revealing top or bathing suit is not obscene as long as her nipples are covered? Huh? I should put one of my breastfeeding photos up where little if no breast tissue is showing and one of me in a very revealing shirt where my nipple is covered but lots of breast tissue is showing. I guarantee the breastfeeding photo would get pulled but not the other.

Anonymous Momish said...

I couldn't believe those responses from Facebook. I have to get off my lazy butt and delete my membership. (I can't remember my log on information for the life of me.)

I LOVE that button. Stealing it!

Blogger jen said...

i've been a bad blog friend lately too. i love that Elizabeth is connecting w/ the moms blogs.

Blogger crazymumma said...

Its all so silly isn't it. Well, more than silly. Just plain ignorant and puerile. (not you of course, the issue I mean).

I had a wee rant about it over at my place.

Methinks there are a bunch of men running Facebook. Men who are obviously not offended by pictures posted of hot co-eds in provocative half-nude poses. Hmmm. Double standard?

Jane, Pinks & Blues

Blogger KC said...

You totally rock, Steph.

Blogger NotSoSage said...

Another bad bloggy friend, but I have to say that you rocked my socks off with this one, LM. Honestly.

Blogger slouching mom said...

It is at times like these that I am damn glad you're a lawyer, LM.

Yay for E. Edwards!

Blogger moosh in indy. said...

Breastfeeding means someone is eating.
That's offensive to those little skinny bitches.

Blogger PinkPowerSuit said...

How can a breast be fully exposed if a baby is nursing from it? The most "offensive" part is covered up! The tandem nursing photo you linked to that was removed barely showed any skin! There's an agenda... It's these 20-something Silicon Valley hotshot geek/jerks. I've heard bad things, I tell ya...

Re-watching Maher's rant on breastfeeding, it's clear to me that he made his comment likening breastfeeding to masturbating just to get a laugh and to make people mad. That's what he does. It's like being controversial on a blog just to get comments. People do that. It's sort of the territory. I just can't imagine that any sane person actually thinks the two are even similar.

Blogger Bon said...

dude, that was waaaay informative. many thanks.

Blogger Christine said...

What is obscene is Facebook's definition of obscene.

I posted on this as well, and I'd like to share the just of it with you if I might:

For fun, I googled 'facebook images.' Go ahead, open up another tab and try it (it's a regular google search, not an images search). There's a couple of pics at the top and then, the first result is called, 'Facebook Images.' Click it. It takes you directly to the facebook site of Mark McGowan, whom it seems is a UK based performance artist/protester. Check out the image first column, fifth row down, titled "THE RE-ENACTMENT OF THE CONCEPTION OF PRINCE WILLIAM 2007." DON'T do this if kids are around.

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Christine - OMG!!!!!!

Anonymous Emily R said...

Now that I am no longer breastfeeding, however, my breasts are rather obscene... Or at least frightening

I’ve found out that Facebook recently kicked a woman off of Facebook, because she talked about breastfeeding her baby???

But, Facebook allow criminals, drug dealers & pedophiles to have Facebooks and they don’t delete them, why?

Yet, Facebook picked on this woman, for being the most important and most beautiful thing in the world…….a mother.

Pick on the weak and innocent why do you? Thats not America, thats not even Mexico, well Facebook picking on mothers is Anti-American, so you just made an enemy, Capt Wild Bill Kelso.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are tired of facebook but want a way to connect with artists and musicians then you should check out www.putiton.com

If you are tired of facebook but still want to connect with your friends then pick up the phone...

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