Wednesday, December 31, 2008

NSFF: not safe for facebook

The only food group your baby needs. You've got what it takes to make a healthy baby. And it doesn't cost a thing.

From an INFACT Canada (Infant Feeding Action Coalition) poster, "a national non-governmental organization that works to protect infant and young child health as well as maternal well-being through the promotion and support of breastfeeding and optimal infant feeding practices."

The above image was deleted by Facebook yesterday as obscene, and was posted to a photo page hosted by the Topfree Equal Rights Association (TERA) [1] out of Ontario which hopes to record all the images of women breastfeeding their children that Facebook has removed per their policy regarding obscene imagery. The images were removed from personal profiles where members choose to share photographs with their Facebook Friends.

A Facebook protest group has taken shape, and over the weekend they staged a virtual nurse-in in which twenty women nursed outside Facebook's Palo Alto headquarters, and over 11,000 folks on Facebook replaced their profile picture with an image of breastfeeding.

More about that here in Time Magazine's Facebook's War on Nipples »

Related: The New York Times write up on suburban housewife Edwina Froehlich, who pioneered a return to breastfeeding in America »

[1] TERA's stated mission is: "to help women who encounter difficulty going without tops in public places in Canada and the USA, and inform the public on this issue." I take it that means breastfeeding, or no.

Update: Many of the images on the TERA site are too much information for me, but I'm shy that way -- you may have noticed that I don't post many personal photos of myself or my family online. I don't object to images of breastfeeding: I object to intruding upon peoples' personal lives. I also get a little embarrassed when people vamp in front of bathroom mirrors, but that's just me (who is also guilty of vamping in front of bathroom mirrors).

The TERA photographs are of women I don't know in intimate and vulnerable moments. Some are artfully done and lovely to look at, some are not. But the point of the controversy is that that they were originally posted in a controlled context for known friends to share an important moment in a relationship that matters to them. Facebook's action against these images demonstrates that they assume a very different intent -- the intent to arouse or titillate, the way pornography intends. I believe that's the compelling point in this dispute, along with the right to share images in what many people consider to be (but truthfully is not) a personal, private space online.

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