Facebook Sends Mixed Messages to Breastfeeding Moms

In Facebook’s official content guidelines, hidden away between bans on the depiction of rape and bestiality, necrophilia and pedophilia, you can find their official policy on photos of breastfeeding. As long as there are no exposed nipples visible in the picture, breastfeeding photos are supposedly permitted on the social networking site. (Male nipples are, ironically, not an issue.)

However, that’s just not what many mothers report. Alicia Eler of Read Write Web notes that photos considered “appropriate” by the policy are often flagged and removed regardless. One Vancouver mother, Emma Kwasnica, has had 30 breastfeeding photos removed and has had her account shut down four times. On one occasion, she was even banned from the site for a month.

When called out on their mixed messages and double standards regarding breastfeeding images by the Huffington Post, Facebook responded:

“We agree that breastfeeding is natural and we are very glad to know that it is important for mothers, including the many mothers who work at Facebook, to share their experience with others on the site. The vast majority of breastfeeding photos are compliant with our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and Facebook takes no action on such content. However, photos which contain a fully exposed breast, do violate our terms and may be removed if they are reported to us. These policies are based on the same standards that apply to television and print media. It is important to note that photos upon which we act are almost exclusively brought to our attention by other users who complain about them being shared on Facebook.”

Emma Kwasnica disagrees with this official statement, noting in an interview with the Huffington Post that “at least 30 women I know have had accounts shut down for a single breastfeeding image.” She went on to state:

“It is obvious to me now that Facebook really has lost control of their network, especially when their written policy clearly states they support the sharing of breastfeeding images, yet they say they cannot control the actions of their employees who keep removing breastfeeding images and who block accounts of the users who post them – usually ‘in error.’ This is exasperating to me.”

The Guardian, for its part, has responded to the policy by inviting breastfeeding mothers to submit photos of themselves, which the paper is reposting on its Tumblr page. (Unlike Facebook, the Guardian has no nipple-censorship policy, so be warned if you’re reading at work.) You can view the gallery and the Guardian’s take on the whole debacle here.


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Photo credit: slyvar


Carol C.
Carol Cox5 years ago

HERE WE GO AGAIN!! i feel breast-feeding and sex should be a private thing... you don't need to flaunt it and you sure don't need to post pictures of it where anybody can see them. it's a case of TMI for me... I breast fed my kids, in public at times, with a babyblanket draped over my shoulder to shield me and the baby from prying eyes.. and as for sex, anything goes as long as it is consentual and behind doors.... i don't need to see or HEAR you! thank you very much...

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

facebook has gotten bad about not following their own rules.. that being said breastfeeding is a beautiful and natural thing. You dont see moms helicoptering their breasts and begging for media coverage of the babys meal. People need to recall what breasts are FOR. This same line of thinking will make children shy away from any closeness with the opposite sex.

Karen Smith
Karen Smith5 years ago

Breast feeding is natural, yes, but does that mean that breast are to be pulled out in the public, I dont think so, even God wants us to be modest and not parade our bodies in that manner. Breast feeding is a beautiful thing, and so are the babies that God has given.

Helen Buchanan
Helen Buchanan5 years ago

again with the breastfeeding!!!! PRIVATE. don't want or need to see it. horray for you. you have breasts.so does half the population. No one is saying its sexual or wrong we just do not want to watch you. please take yourselves down off your breast pedistal and stop making everyone else care about what you're doing.

LM Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago

interesting article and comments, thank you for sharing!

Glenda L.
Glenda L5 years ago

Much ado about nothing. Who cares that much that they can't show the world pictures of themselves breastfeeding. And who has the time to complain to facebook about these things? Got nothing better to do?

Rua L.
Rua L.5 years ago

Breasts have been overly sexualized in our current society and need to be desexualized by photos like these showing their primary function.

Bette M.
Bette M5 years ago

Strikes me as a bit daft that you can't have a photo of a breastfeeding infant on FB, while it's perfectly legal to walk down an Ontario street topless.

Hello G.
Hello G5 years ago

Breastfeeding is good but need not to be proved by showing your pic online:( and appreciated by your friends!

Kellyanne M.
Kellyanne M5 years ago

Why would you post a breast feeding picture anyway? Sure, you are feeding the baby, but it doesn't need to be posted for all to see. I nursed all three of my children, but never felt the need to take pictures and share them. Unless it is a how-to page, I don't get it.