Hey, Facebook, what have you got against breast-feeding?
The social networking site says any breast-feeding images that show a little areola will be removed. Naturally, a protest movement has ensued. On Facebook.
I am not sure how you feel about breast-feeding in public, but Facebook seems to have made its views very clear.
The site had something of a contretemps with Heather Farley, a Facebooker who posted photographs in October of herself feeding her new baby. She was, at first, bemused when the photos were removed. So she put another one up, only to receive a note from Facebook threatening to remove her from Facebookdom.
Her sin, explained Facebook, was not the actual image of breast-feeding. It was the visibility of her areola, the dark area around the nipple.
A Facebook spokesman named Barry Schnitt said that this is not a question of obscenity. Rather, he said, it is one of safety. Teenagers, the argument seems to go, use Facebook and one mustn't expose them to images that might inspire their baser, basic instincts.
Ms. Farley was not terribly impressed and created a Facebook group called Hey, Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!.
On the group's Facebook page there is a declaration that "on December 27th, 2008 over 11 000 people participated in our first ever M.I.L.C. (Mothers International Lactation Campaign) event. Participants from around the globe joined our virtual protest of Facebooks discriminatory practice of arbitrarily and randomly removing breastfeeding pictures from member profiles and albums, classifying them as obscene content."
The page also contains a breast-feeding picture with some rather suspicious shadow, as well as a link to some of the banned photos. None of which strikes me in the way that certain images of the exposed human body have occasionally struck me.
One's mind finds itself forced to consider how Facebook got to look at these pictures in the first place. It seems that some people actually contacted the site to complain. Yet if these pictures were only exposed to friends of the feeder--yes, the friend feed--are we to assume that one of the feeder's virtual buddies was really upset and contacted the site?
In which case, if I were the breast-feeder, I would try to find out who these supposed friends might be and de-friend them, defrock them, or whatever suitable social castigation there might be.
On the other hand, could it be that Facebook has appointed a pimply-faced breast monitor to stalk mammary overexposure wherever he may find it? That would surely be a sad day for humanity and its ability to socially network.
Meanwhile, the Hey, Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene! group has over 81,000 members. How many days will it be before the Got Milk? people try to sponsor it?