Opinion

Facebook is OK with breastfeeding pictures—so why isn't everybody?

Facebook has changed its policies to allow people to post breastfeeding pictures. But the real problem is the people reporting the pics as inappropriate.

brelfies-facebook

Photo: iStockphoto

If you’re a mom who posts “brelfies,” or breastfeeding photos, you’ll be relieved that Facebook has made some slight changes to its policies.

Facebook clarified its community standards last week to note that pictures of women “actively engaged in breastfeeding” will “always be allowed.”

Posting breastfeeding photos to social streams like Facebook is a way for new moms to share intimate photos of their daily life, as well as a way to try to normalize public breastfeeding. But Facebook has taken down breastfeeding pictures when users complained about them, and this removal of breastfeeding photos has often been a sore point between Facebook and new moms, sometimes leading to sit-ins and sharp online criticism.

In a blog post, Facebook executives say that their policies haven’t changed—rather, they wanted to clarify their stand on nudity and hate speech.

Now that Facebook has declared that breastfeeding pictures are OK, it’s up to users to get with the times and stop reporting breastfeeding photos!

Over the past few years, there has been a perfect storm of people reporting breastfeeding photos and an over-zealous Facebook staff removing them. Facebook doesn’t take down photos unless someone lodges a complaint with them first. When the site receives a complaint, they review the picture and decide if it infringes on their nudity policy. So if you’ve had a photo removed, one of your “friends” is to blame.

I’ve never understood why people take the time to fill out a complaint when they can just continue scrolling and check out someone else’s feed. Or “unfollow” posts from this person if breastfeeding makes you so uncomfortable.

But personally, after reading so many blog comments about public breastfeeding, I think people need to see babies breastfeeding in order to normalize it. There’s no need to hide breastfeeding in a private corner of the Internet, or a private room of the house. Breastfeeding is a normal part of life, and I’m happy for my kids to see photos of babies and their mamas.

“Brelfies” are here to stay, and unlike most selfies, they may be making the world a better place. I would definitely rather see someone post a photo of breastfeeding than another Kardashian cleavage shot. And yet, it is the breastfeeding pics that are more likely to be taken down. Maybe that will change with these new guidelines. Though Facebook’s new policy says it only allows “photos of women actively engaged in breastfeeding.” So there’s still the possibility that breastfeeding photos will be removed.

It’s unclear if Facebook will still remove photos where one nipple is showing or if the baby is sleeping after being breastfed. “Actively engaging” is an odd term that’s open to interpretation—let’s hope that Facebook doesn’t get caught up in those semantics. But most of all, let’s hope people stop reporting breastfeeding pics at all.

Emma Waverman is a writer, blogger and mom to three kids. She has many opinions, some of them are fit to print. Read more of her articles here and follow her on Twitter @emmawaverman.

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