Jessica wanted to reach out and connect with other breastfeeding moms. She felt after her experiencing nursing five girls she had some wisdom to share and knew that nursing women often need to connect and exchange stories. To make it easier, she started a Leaky B@@b Facebook page as an offshoot of her blog, The Leaky B@@b. The Facebook community grew beyond her expectations to approximately 16,000 active monthly users, affectionately called "Leakies".
But then when she woke up on January 2, the community was gone, erased by Facebook for violation Terms of Service.
Within hours another Facebook page: Bring Back the Leaky Boob [update: the page was terminated by Facebook on Tuesday, January 3] was formed and by the end of the day had over 4,000 members had joined. For many new mothers the Facebook community had become more than just a page about breastfeeding; it was a place to vent, get support, lend a hand and give and get advice. The outraged Leakies are talking about nurse-ins at the Facebook offices on Friday, January 7. They are disgusted that Facebook decided that a supportive community covering topics of women and babies health is "obscene". In response, many women have changed their profile picture to a photo or image of a nursing child.
This is not the first time that Facebook has taken down breastfeeding photos. In 2007, Kelli Roman's breastfeeding photos were deleted from her personal page; in response she started a Facebook page called, Hey Facebook, breastfeeding pictures are not obscene. It currently has 258, 156 members with 6,855 pictures of breastfeeding and grows daily.
There are all sorts of images of breasts on Facebook (I checked): huge ones peeking out of a bra, fully naked, and even advertisements for breastfeeding products but it seems that only pictures of a mother nursing her child are inappropriate. (Check out Momotics for a post of some of what Facebook considers appropriate and PhDinParenting's breakdown of the issue)
In a New York Times article in 2009, Facebook said that showing the nipple is the problem, not the breastfeeding and that the company is just responding to complaints. It is hard to believe that people are complaining about pictures on their friend's profile pages, or that someone just tripped over the Leaky B@@b and was offended by the pictures.(Unless of course someone was searching for boobs and then was offended to see them being used as a food source, not a sexual object). There are some rumblings that there is a troll who searches out breastfeeding pages to report them and have them removed, or a disgruntled community member reported the page, but who knows.
The worst part of this particular action is that Facebook has removed an incredibly supportive place for breastfeeding women to ask questions, seek advice, connect and celebrate. And they haven't even responded to Jessica's request for an explanalation for the termination.
Jessica wrote in an email that The Leaky B@@b Facebook page was started as an online pub:
a safe place for breastfeeding moms and the people that support them to get information, share stories and build community. I had in my head this idea of a community tavern where travelers meet up and exchange tales, encouraging new travelers and passing on road wisdom. Something I feel we've lost in this culture, we are so isolated in so many ways.
If I was currently having breastfeeding problems I would want to be part of that community. I'm not sure why Facebook is so threatened by it.
Mark Zuckerberg describes his personal interests as: "openness, making things that help people connect and share what's important to them, revolutions, information flow, minimalism" . That seems slightly ironic doesn't it?
If you would like to support The Leaky Boob, "Like" their Facebook page: Bring Back the Leaky Boob. (this page was removed by Facebook on Tuesday for violating their Terms of Service, click here to show your support.
(photo courtesy of Dagmar Bleasdale from Dagmar's Momsense. It is now her profile photo on Facebook.)
Update: Facebook contacted Rebecca on January 3and told her the Leaky Boob page was taken down in error. But by 11 p.m. The Leaky Boob page was removed once again and this time the Leaky Boob support page was also taken down for violating Facebook's TOS. To support The Leaky Boob and to send a message to Facebook click on their third page: "Join TLB in Support of Women's Health."
Do you think breastfeeding pictures are inappropriate? Do you think Facebook has a right to pull down photos and pages about breastfeeding?
Want more? Last year I was was writing about the importance of advance notice when it comes to playdates; as in calling the minute the barf hits the floor.