Belfast Telegraph

Facebook U-turn on Cancer Focus Northern Ireland video ban

Roisin Foster
Roisin Foster

Facebook has reversed its decision to ban a video about breast cancer, stating it was "removed by mistake".

The u-turn comes after Cancer Focus Northern Ireland slammed their "ill-informed and reckless" earlier decision, in which they said the video breached its standards by featuring nudity.

“Some audiences are sensitive to different things when it comes to nudity," the message enforcing the ban stated.

The clip shows women how to check their breasts for lumps that could indicate cancer, using a plastic model as a demonstration tool.

Rosin Foster, chief executive of Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, said she is "completely baffled" by Facebook's decision.

"All we are trying to do is educate women about how to check themselves, raise awareness of the signs and symptoms and raise money for support for younger women with breast cancer," she said.

“We know anecdotally that many women aren’t aware of all the signs of breast cancer apart from finding a lump. Nor are they sure how to check themselves or how often.

The Facebook message enforcing the ban
The Facebook message enforcing the ban

"One in ten women in Northern Ireland get breast cancer, so it’s essential that these messages are spread. Social media is a vital part of promoting our health cancer prevention work.”

Ms Foster said the video is "inoffensive, tasteful and educational" and Facebook's ban is "perplexing", given the "highly questionable and dubious" nature of some of the content allowed on the site.

“I think that Facebook’s decision is completely ill-informed and reckless. We are trying to save women’s lives," she added.

In response, a Facebook spokesperson said the video was removed in error and has since been restored to the site.

"Whilst adult nudity is not allowed on Facebook, we do make exceptions for posts which are shared for educational or medical reasons, or to raise awareness for causes such as breast cancer awareness. We’re sorry for the inconvenience caused,” they said.

Ms Foster, however, said this excuse does not tally with a statement from Facebook issued when Cancer Focus NI attempted to run the video as an advertisement on the site.

In this case they were told Facebook doesn't allow content "that features sexually suggestive positioning or that shows a lot of skin (even if it's for an artistic or education reason) because of their highly sensitive nature."

Ms Foster said: “It isn’t quite accurate to say that the video was removed in error as it didn’t appear on Facebook when we tried to posted it and it was also turned down as a paid for advert. Facebook informed us that the video didn’t meet their standards.

“It’s a pity we had to go to these lengths to ensure the video was publicised. However, we are delighted that Facebook has seen sense, changed their mind and has posted what is a professionally made, educational and tasteful video. We hope that it will be widely viewed and be of real use to thousands of women.”

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