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Facebook makes exception to nudity policy?

A woman posts her topless picture, post-mastectomy, on Facebook, to raise awareness of breast cancer. Facebook removes it as 'sexual and abusive,' only to apologize and re-instate it after protests.

Sharon Adams, a 45-year-old mother of four from Reading, England, underwent a mastectomy in March.

Instead of concentrating on her own misfortune, she decided to use Facebook to spread the need for women both to have regular checkups and not to feel shame should they endure such awful surgery.

So she posted four pictures of herself, revealing the right side of her body, scarred after the removal of her breast.

Within 24 hours, the pictures were removed by the so-called porn cops at Facebook as being "sexual and abusive."

CC Klynslis/Flickr

"For Facebook to claim they were sexual and abusive was absurd. Facebook has online groups about sexual positions and some groups which are bordering on racist--but they ban this," Adams told the Daily Mail.

There will be many who have themselves experienced a cancer diagnosis or watched a loved one suffer through physical pain, emotional desperation, and a need to grip hard to some place of hope, strength, and dignity.

They can only sympathize with why Adams put the images of her body's struggle and defiance onto her Facebook page, though they could only be seen by her friends.

When they were removed, a separate group was set up called "Get Sharon Adams Picture Back on Facebook."

A message on the group's page from Simon Axten of Facebook read: "We've investigated this further and determined that we made a mistake in removing these photos."

Perhaps some might consider that this was Facebook making an exception to its conservative nudity rules.

However, Axten's message continued: "Our User Operations team reviews thousands of reported photos a day and may occasionally remove something that doesn't actually violate our policies. This is what happened here. We apologize for the mistake and encourage Sharon to upload these photos again if she so chooses. Thanks."

This insistence that the photo did not, after all, violate the company's policies might just refer to the so-called areola rule that came to light after a furor over Facebook removing certain breastfeeding pictures from its site.

The areola is the darker part of the nipple. And Adams' is not actually visible, given that she now has a large scar living across the right side of her chest.

So Facebook's carefully constricted policies appear to have actually remained intact.

However, if a woman chose to post a picture similar to Ms. Adams', but with the remaining breast exposed, perhaps to make a dramatic and comparative point about the ravages of breast cancer, one assumes that image would be removed.

Oh, good policy, wherefore art thou?