Updated 3:15 p.m. PDT with Photobucket acknowledging its error and restoring removed images.
Photobucket is removing photos of babies in diapers from the site, saying they violate the terms of service because they depict "nudity."
Diaper company Good Mama Diapers sponsored a diaper photo contest on Photobucket and posted hundreds of photo submissions on the photo-sharing site over the past 10 weeks or so. On Wednesday, Jessica Thornton of Good Mama Diapers logged on to the site and noticed they were all gone.
Thornton e-mailed Photobucket customer support to find out what happened. She got a reply saying that the site recently changed its content moderation policies regarding images of children and that the photos violated the new policy, which prohibits content that contains nudity.
"While we understand that in a family album type of setting, these images are innocent, we must remove the content because of the nudity and believe that this restriction is in the best interest of children's safety," the Photobucket e-mail says. "This policy applies to all accounts, public or private. We ask that you keep these images on your personal computers and not host them on Photobucket.com."
Thornton, with images of diaper commercials on television swirling in her head, then asked Photobucket customer support for a clear definition of what constitutes "nudity." How is it nudity when the babies are wearing diapers?
In its unintentionally humorous response, Photobucket writes as if only one image had been removed and describes it as "an image of a baby with his/her diaper falling off, exposing his/her butt. We do not allow images of children or adults exposing there (sic) naked butts."
Indeed, there was one photo that was a take-off of the famous Coppertone tanning ad with the dog tugging on the toddler's bathing suit, Thornton says. But what about the hundreds of others?
Dan Berger, a spokesman at Photobucket parent Fox Interactive, issued this statement in response to questions about the situation: "Per its terms of service, Photobucket removes all pictures that include nudity, regardless of the subject's age, in order to ensure the safety and security of its users."
That doesn't satisfy Thornton, who lost the hundreds of photos and countless hours spent posting the images on Photobucket.
"It's just horrible being made to feel like you've done something shameful when we're in the cloth diapering business," she says.
Update: After this blog was posted, Photobucket informed Thornton that it had erred in censoring the photos and said it would restore them.