Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hey, Facebook!

Today, I'll be at the nurse-in at 11am. I will, of course, take pictures and post them (and maybe even to Facebook!)

In the meantime, I wrote up a letter to Facebook outlining my purposes in this nurse-in. I thought I'd share it here.

Dear Facebook,

My name is Heather Farley and I am coordinating the nurse-in that will occur this Saturday. I have been using Facebook since February 2005 when Facebook was very small and young. I really enjoy using Facebook and being able to connect with friends and family easily. I think this service that Facebook has offered millions of Internet users is invaluable. However, I am upset about Facebook's recent actions.

I wanted to outline the reasoning and purpose of the nurse-in. As you know, the group, “Hey Facebook, Breastfeeding isn't obscene (Official Petition to Facebook)” is where this event was organized. Perhaps it seems strange to you that such a “small” issue might have so much attention. I wanted to highlight the impact that the removal of breastfeeding pictures has.
On one hand, it is a public health issue. For many years, the World Health Organization has emphasized the need for mothers to breastfeed and has set minimum standards that many countries, including the United States, still have yet to meet. They have set these standards to help prevent the significant number of deaths of infants in our world. By removing pictures of breastfeeding, the message is sent that it is something shameful, something that should be hidden and not seen. This can undermine the confidence and desire of future mothers to breastfeed their children, to the detriment of their children's health.

On the other hand, it is an issue of discrimination against breastfeeding mothers. Like issues such as pregnancy, breastfeeding discrimination is a gender issue. When pictures are removed of breastfeeding and not of artificial feeding, breastfeeding mothers are being discriminated against and a wrongful double standard is set. After all, a bottle is simply a plastic, prosthetic disembodied breast in size, form, and function. Additionally, many groups such as the Ontario Human Rights Commission have stated that breastfeeding right issues are human rights issues and that discrimination against a breastfeeding mother is discrimination of her rights.
It is also a public relations and customer service issue. There are more than 60,000 people in the group, “Hey Facebook...” The statements that Facebook does not plan on considering changing the policies about breastfeeding images gives the impression that the opinion of those 60,000 Facebook users is unimportant and inconsequential. However, 60,000 people are not inconsequential and Facebook's reply of no action may in the future result in the loss of Facebook users and customers.

I do understand that Facebook needs to prevent and eliminate pornography on the site. It might not appear possible to have a user agreement that disallows sexually explicit pictures while allowing pictures of mothers breastfeeding. I want to suggest that this is possible- and such a user agreement is my goal in this nurse-in. I would like Facebook to change their policy to something resembling, “photos containing nudity, drug use, or other obscene content are not allowed, except in the case of a mother nursing a child.” If Facebook added such a clause, pornographic and sexually explicit images could be removed without discrimination occurring towards mothers and babies.

I hope that Facebook will reconsider their position and listen to this group of 60,000, for the benefit of babies and for the rights of mothers.


  1. I used the cover of my book (a bf photo) as my profile picture on facebook and nothing was ever said. I just didn't like facebook (too much BS for me: emails, applications, etc...) so I deleted my account.

    Glad many of you can participate in this nurse-in, my time wasn't spent well on facebook so I decided not to reactivate my account for this cause.

  2. Just clarifying: Would your clarification of the facebook stance on nudity make it ok for me to put up a picture of myself breastfeeding topless? Or completely naked?

    I did not feel that the picture you posted was obscene. Obviously someone did, though.

    Where are you drawing the line? Facebook said that mostly exposed breasts and exposed nipples are not OK. That's their line. Are you saying that, as long as it's about nursing, there shouldn't be one?

    I feel like the bad/unpopular guy asking this question. Really, I'm just curious. Breastfeeding photos don't really bother me one way or another. But it does bother others--and not only closeminded and/or perverted others.

  3. Good luck! btw, I used your questions this week in the Fill-Ins :-)

  4. My sister was moved to do this fan club:


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