Guardian

Let's put Facebook's 'no nipples' rule to test with your breastfeeding photos


guardiantech37 retweets
Let's put Facebook's 'no nipples' rule to test with your breastfeeding photos

Let's put Facebook's 'no nipples' rule to test with your breastfeeding photos

A society that is not prepared to accept the odd flash of nipple is a society that is not prepared to accept breastfeeding

This article was published on guardian.co.uk at

15.27 GMT on Wednesday 22 February 2012

This picture might just about make the Facebook cut … Photograph: Getty

It's not easy being a colossally successful social network. This might sound like sarcasm, but it's not; it's hard to formulate rules that allow 845 million users to express themselves without offering grievous offence, while taking account of laws in scores of jurisdictions. Unsurprisingly, then, recently leaked documents that appear to reveal Facebook's "image and post approval system" have provoked some hostile responses. If your moderation policy doesn't leave anyone feeling as though their freedom of expression has been curtailed just a little, then either it's a bit useless, or you're an admin on 4chan .

… but this one wouldn't Photograph: Jaime Reina/AFP/Getty Images

All of which is a way of paraphrasing Monica Geller: rules are good. Rules help control the fun. You want to proscribe images of child sexual abuse? Everyone can get with that. You want to ban "slurs or racial comments of any kind"? Most people will understand the motivation. You want to ban images of ear wax? I'm not really sure why, to be honest, but I guess we can all get through the day without seeing Uncle Ray's collection of things he has found in his ears.

But I do want to emit a high-pitched whining noise about at least one item on this modern equivalent of the Papal Index. Because right there, sandwiched between "depiction of sexual assault or rape" and "bestiality, necrophilia and pedophilia" is "breastfeeding photos showing other nudity, or nipple clearly exposed".

It might be helpful to be clear here: breastfeeding is – at a basic level – an activity that requires the exposure of the nipple. Some mothers prioritise "discretion", a preoccupation that results in (among other things) Hooter Hiders . Good for them; if it helps them to breastfeed, I'm all for it. But many others find it impossible to breastfeed without displaying some flesh. The wearying insistence on the obscenity of ordinary lactation contributes strongly to a real-world culture in which breastfeeding, despite a thousand officially sanctioned leaflets and posters, is holed below the waterline. Healthcare professionals tell mothers that they simply must breastfeed; yet the public seems to add, "but we must never be aware of it". A society that is not prepared to accept the odd flash of nipple is a society that is not prepared to accept breastfeeding.

And it matters what Facebook does about this, just as its attitude towards " rape lol " culture matters. My reference to the Papal Index isn't entirely facetious; Facebook is one of the most influential cultural mediators in the world. In reflecting and promoting the belief that milky nipples are injurious to public morality, it gives succour to every shopping centre security guard who's ever told a nursing mother to put it away or leave the premises. A mother who is told by Facebook that her breastfeeding photos have been removed because her nipples were showing is quite likely to be humiliated, upset and one step closer to giving up on breastfeeding.

With this in mind, the Guardian has decided to try a little Facebook-busting. If you'd like to mail your pictures of nipple-accessorised breastfeeding to your.pictures@guardian.co.uk , the fearless folk at Comment is free will post them on the Guardian's Facebook page , and see whether Facebook takes them down.

• Follow Comment is free on Twitter @commentisfree

Letters for publication should be sent to: letters@guardian.co.uk

If you need help using the site: userhelp@guardian.co.uk

Call the main Guardian and Observer switchboard:

+44 (0)20 3353 2000

Life and style

Buy Facebook - The Rise and Rise of a Social Media Giant ebook

Letters for publication should be sent to: letters@guardian.co.uk

If you need help using the site: userhelp@guardian.co.uk

Call the main Guardian and Observer switchboard:

+44 (0)20 3353 2000

This article was published on guardian.co.uk at

15.27 GMT on Wednesday 22 February 2012

Sort comments by

22 February 2012 3:33PM

I'm sure there is a joke to be made here about "leaked documents" ...

Recommend? (2)

Responses (0)

That second picture is just crying out for a caption competition.

Recommend? (3)

Responses (0)

22 February 2012 3:34PM

Rowan, do you really believe we should all get outraged about something so vacuous? Really?

Recommend? (3)

Responses (0)

22 February 2012 3:35PM

Seriously tho - in a world where sexualised images of the breast abound what is the problem with showing breasts being used as biologically intended

Recommend? (3)

Responses (0)

22 February 2012 3:35PM

Funny, but if I want to see pictures of nipples, Facebook is the last website that springs to mind.

Recommend? (6)

Responses (0)

Recommend? (1)

Responses (0)

22 February 2012 3:36PM

I can only think that it is because it would be too traumatic for some men (and maybe some lesbians too ?) to be confronted with the fact that breasts are not exclusively their playthings

Recommend? (2)

Responses (0)

22 February 2012 3:37PM

Would they allow cows udders to be shown too, or does that come under "bestiality?"

Recommend? (1)

Responses (0)

Log out, and you'll live... at least a while.

And tweeting on your Ipads, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell facebook that they may take our personal information, but they'll never take... OUR NIPPLES!

Definatelynotashark likes this.

Isn't this how the Taliban started?

And to think Facebook was developed by a student who once upon a time would have given his eye-teeth to have seen a nipple.

I don't have a personal page on Facebook. It has never appealed but stories like this make it even less appealing.

Recommend? (0)

Responses (0)

22 February 2012 3:41PM

A friend of mine recently posted a picture on Facebook of her Spaniel feeding her new litter of puppies.

Should I report her?

22 February 2012 3:43PM

Is this another redefining of a Guardian philosphy in the face of unchanging reality (ie, the public perception of female nipples as 'nice')

If Murdoch had closed the Sun the ther week, would the Graun have picked up page 3?

Recommend? (0)

Responses (0)

22 February 2012 3:43PM

to be fair, I don't REALLY care about breastfeeding pictures and my dislike of children and especially parents is well known online and in the real world.

The REAL issue is the outsourcing of checking these pictures and posts by Facebook to places like Morocco so that they can pay people £1/day or whatever it is that they are being paid to block these pictures. This then leads to the fact that in non muslim countries we are being censored about what we can post by so called muslim sensibilities. Which is wrong. The pay is wrong the imposition of a religious outlook on whether a picture is offensive or not is also wrong.

I know that I got a 7 day picture upload ban because I uploaded a picture of a girl wrapped in bondage tape, nothing on show, more covered up than a bikini, yet someone at an outsourced "factory" somewhere decided that it was insensitive to THEIR sensibilities.

Recommend? (1)

Responses (0)

Recommend? (0)

Responses (0)

22 February 2012 3:44PM

I use facebook to keep abreast of things but I realise it can make me look a tit.

Recommend? (0)

Responses (0)

What is Zeitgeist?

Zeitgeist is an experiment in showing trending news, topics and articles from the Guardian. Find out more in our blog post .

Last 24 hours

GuardianJessica: Lol at Fassbender RT @CaptionPerson: This week's Keanu-rich celeb gallery is up http://t.co/IkQQOkKq

From: £7.95

47min ago

Comment from the paper

Join Gabrielle Palmer, the author of The Politics of Breastfeeding, for a live chat on Tuesday 22 June at 2.30pm

Formula milk powder version of capsule machine stirs debate on breastfeeding advice

Tech in images

The awkward moment when you break the law you propose...

http://twitpic.com/88ueqz

The awkward moment when you break the law you proposed #StopSOPA
The awkward moment when you break the law you proposed #StopSOPA

Picture of daguilar6
19 Jan 2012
2K retweets

Twitpic - Share photos and videos on Twitter

Picture of daguilar6
18 May 2012
1K retweets
OMG! @mcangeli @simonpegg Escaped tiger eats child!!! Shocking pic.

Funniest tech support response EVAR: http://t.co/AzJh...

http://i.imgur.com/QvEhW.jpg

Funniest tech support response EVAR: http://t.co/AzJhHdIK
Funniest tech support response EVAR

Picture of daguilar6
4 Mar 2012
879 retweets

Tech in videos

The White House

Picture of daguilar6
31 Jan 2012
8K retweets
@whitehouse @AlexJamesFitz We're seeing something revolutionary in open government tonight. #obamahangout

It Starts With Me

Picture of daguilar6
4 Dec 2012
1K retweets
Great video from @ONECampaign. If we stay the course, we can end this disease. Take a look: #startswithme #WAD2012

Virginia Tech commit Kendall Fuller talks about his v...

Picture of daguilar6
30 Jul 2012
1K retweets
Virginia Tech commit Kendall Fuller talks about his verbal: Virginia Tech commit Kendall Fuller tal... #247Sports

Tech in articles

Instagram + Facebook

Picture of daguilar6
10 Apr 2012
1K retweets
Instagram + Facebook - When Mike and I started Instagram nearly ... (@kevin / Instagram)

Stop Censorship " STOP SOPA - PIPA !"

http://yupzone.blogspot.com/2012/...

Posted by Blog Recehan / On : 7:23 AM/ Thank you for visiting my small blog here. If you wanted to discuss or have the question around this article, please comment here. As a blogger, I’m concerned by the implications of bills like SOPA and the Senate version PIPA . As someone with a legal background, I’m even more alarmed that they might become law. Copyright infringement is wrong — but so are overreaching laws that don’t give a damn about due process. Under SOPA, IP rights holders can proceed vig...

Picture of daguilar6
8 Mar 2012
8K retweets

THE FUTURE OF MOBILE [DECK]

Picture of daguilar6
5 Apr 2012
6K retweets
Must Read --> The Future of Mobile [SLIDE DECK]

Tech in sites

Đọc báo, Tin tức 24h | http://VietTri.vn

http://viettri.vn/tintuc

Đọc báo, Tin tức 24h | http://VietTri.vn
Vụ tai nạn xảy ra vào ngày 17/12, tại công trường thi công Thủy điện Suối Sập 1 (xã Tà Xùa, huyện Bắc Yên, Sơn La). Thời điểm đó, công nhân đang thi công tại khu vực lắp ráp tuabin của nhà máy thì van xả nước hồ bị vỡ.

Picture of daguilar6
3 Apr 2012
7K retweets

ちょく読み

Picture of daguilar6
19 Mar 2012
3K retweets
おはようございます。ちょく読み更新完了!☆携帯 ☆docomo(Android) 「KCGコミックス」「TECH GIAN STYLE」新作でましたー♪

西川 進の興奮日記

Picture of daguilar6
11 Feb 2010
1K retweets
おはようございます!!今日は、、、 「Def Tech TOUR 2012」愛知県芸術劇場大ホール!!気合い入れて行きますよ!!日記更新!!→