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Facebook relaxes its policy on breastfeeding photos

Dana Wollman, @danawollman
June 13, 2014
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Breastfeeding in public tends to bring out some strong opinions: For every person who believes there's nothing raunchy about feeding one's child, there's someone who thinks women should keep it in their blouses unless behind closed doors. And while the debate rages on, Facebook, at least, has taken a stand: The company has quietly adopted a more lax approach to breastfeeding photos, wherein someone can post such a picture even if a breast is fully exposed (and that includes the one the baby isn't nursing from). Mastectomy pictures are allowed too, though other images of topless women will still be removed.

The change came about two weeks ago, according to a Huffington Post UK report, but before that, Facebook treated breastfeeding pictures the same way it did any other photo containing nudity. Which is to say, they ran the chance of being removed under Facebook's obscenity policy. According to a Facebook spokesperson, the company has never had a ban on breastfeeding photos. "[It's] natural and beautiful and we know that it's important for mothers to share their experiences with others on Facebook," he said in a statement. And the ones that contain nudity? "It is very hard to consistently make the right call on every photo that may or may not contain nudity that is reported to us," he said, "particularly when there are billions of photos and pieces of content being shared on Facebook everyday, and that has sometimes resulted in content being removed mistakenly."

An understatement? Perhaps. In any case, the spokesperson did acknowledge that the company has changed the way it reviews reports of nudity "to help us better examine the context of the photo or image." Translation: the actual process by which Facebook reviews flagged photos hasn't changed. Now, though, if its screeners sees an exposed breast in a nursing photo, they'll look the other way. (As should you -- ever hear of the hide button?)

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