Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Facebook banned pics of breastfeeding mums

Red-faced bosses at Facebook have admitted they boobed — after they had banned a picture of a woman breastfeeding her baby.

The young mum from Belfast won a moral victory over the social networking giants who had axed her account over her proud snap.

Facebook monitors had been continuously removing pictures of mothers breastfeeding which automatically deemed them “obscene” and saw one mother's account deleted altogether.

Siona Hurley, a 32-year-old mother-of-two, alongside more than 7,000 other Facebook users from around the world, posted a picture of herself breastfeeding her newborn daughter as part of a ‘Nurse In' event which lasted four days last week.

Nurse In was set up to express objection to the deletion of an

American woman's account after she posted a picture of herself breastfeeding.

Siona, like many, ‘attended' the event and posted the picture you see printed here.

She was later appalled to find a caution by Facebook which labelled the image as “obscene” and illustrative of “nudity”, removing it in the process.

Siona and many other local mothers from Nurse In urged Sunday Life to bring to light the antiquated move made by what is one of the most popular and modern mediums of communication in the world with 500 million users.

When we investigated Nurse In we found many other mothers' perfectly innocent breastfeeding shots had also been deleted by the web phenomenon's monitors.

What was more shocking was that on our second visit, Nurse In had been removed entirely. In its place there was a statement saying: “The event ‘Facebook Nurse In' has been removed because it violated our Terms of Use... events that are hateful, threatening or obscene are not allowed... continued misuse of Facebook's features could result in your account being disabled.”

Siona said: “A mother called Guggie Daly had her account deleted because she uploaded pictures of her breastfeeding to her photo

albums so I posted my picture on this Nurse In events page in support of this injustice. It was removed and a caution was posted on my wall and emailed to me.

“To be honest the picture was only posted as part of the protest, so I wasn't at all surprised when it was removed, but that doesn't make it any less offensive to have been accused of doing something obscene.

“I think it's disgraceful that Facebook reacted like this. I have seen much more ‘offensive' things, not only posted by other Facebook users, but even in the advertisements on the site, which show a lot more flesh than the picture I had removed.”

Siona, a local doctor, said she believed that Facebook's actions could easily discourage new mums from breastfeeding.

She added: “There's nothing obscene about breastfeeding and it's hard enough for women who may find it difficult to breastfeed at times without being made to feel that they are doing something offensive and should hide away until their babies are weaned.”

A spokesman told us that Facebook has no objection to breastfeeding images but it has a responsibility and it draws the line at “nipple exposure” which Siona's picture clearly did not expose.

Richard Appleton added: “Our goal is to make our users as happy as possible.”

But the reality was more than 7,000 users were outraged.

The same spokesman admitted that Siona's picture had been removed by “accident” and when we enquired as to why Nurse In mysteriously vanished, the spokesman told us that he couldn't comment because Facebook “is so huge it's hard to work out why”.

However, moments later the same spokesman informed us that Nurse In had been restored and its short departure never clarified.

Fiona Taylor, 31, is another Belfast mum-of-two and after learning Nurse In was back online she said: “I'm glad that the group has been restored by Facebook and they've come to their senses.”

We found the other photos featured on this page uncensored on Facebook.

As we are a family newspaper we have placed black strips on these pictures.

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