My truly Loyal Readers, though, know that my blog sometimes strays away from productivity and back to its roots every now and then. This is one of those times. (To be fair, I post about technology and Facebook quite a lot, but not usually in this way.)
I was offended by a breastfeeding photo on Facebook.
I'll pause here and let you calm down.
Better? Okay, keep reading then.
The picture itself did not actually offend me. After all, I had two babies - one took bottles (due to a serious infection that had me hospitalized separate from baby on a heart ward of a different hospital) and one was breastfed.
|A Happy, Healthy Breastfed Baby|
I have lots of friends who post breastfeeding photographs on their Facebook walls. I understand that they want to normalize feeding a baby at the breast, and I support them. I was more of a cover-up sort of mom (hence the picture of my kid above not eating dinner), but that is a personal choice that every breastfeeding mom should be free to make.
But this particular breastfeeding photo had me raging.
I was not offended because the woman had both breasts exposed (even though the baby was only feeding on one). The critical areas were covered up or cropped out. I was not offended because of nudity or anything remotely offensive in the picture itself.
No, this picture offended me because of the claim in the caption: "Facebook removed this photo for being offensive and pornographic. Share and show Facebook that this picture is beautiful."
I could not imagine Facebook, with its current policies, banning this photo. I use Facebook daily. A quick glance at my friends' list would reveal that some of them post some edgy stuff. None of that gets banned. I smelled a lie.
Sometimes, activists who mean well tell little lies (or don't really bother investigating the truth), and other activists or sympathetic parties repeat those lies, in order to help the cause.
Here, the cause was sharing breastfeeding pictures on Facebook. And there is nothing like a nice controversy to help a cause.
I tested the lie theory.
For the first time since I've had Facebook, I reported a post as offensive and pornographic. Yes, I told Facebook a lie, too, since I judge the photograph as well within the bounds of posting guidelines. (I am duly ashamed of my behavior. I couldn't think of any other way to test it. It's not like Facebook will take my calls.)
Within a short period of time, Facebook responded that this picture was within the guidelines set forth by the company, and therefore they would not remove the picture. They gave me reasonable options (the very ones that I generally use when I don't like something, like hiding or blocking the post), but they refused to delete the picture.
I'll say that one more time, in case you missed it.
They refused to delete the picture.
The banned photo was not banned at all. That lie was written to get people to share the photo.
Most people tend to ignore crazy stories on Facebook, but this lie told by the person who first posted the banned breastfeeding picture probably seems reasonable to a lot of people who are getting the link from friends and have personal experience with breastfeeding, such that they know that bad behavior towards nursing moms does happen. In other words, this lie touches vulnerable mothers.
That is not okay.
Share your breastfeeding pictures. Or don't.
Allow breastfeeding pictures in your Facebook feed. Or don't.
TIP: Click on the little arrow in the upper right hand corner of a particular post to hide posts.
But don't help these people spread lies about what is going on in society. Where there are victories for communities, like Facebook's current policy of posting most breastfeeding pictures, reward those policies with truth instead of dishonesty. Respect the women and the babies in the pictures by never assuming, unless you have a personal relationship with the person in the photo, that the caption attached is the truth or that it was written by the person in the picture or the person sharing the picture.
Most of all, don't trust everything you read, but be truthful in your own posts.
Now back to regularly scheduled blogging.
P.S. I recommend this book for pregnant women and new moms. It served me well.
The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding