Breast-Feeding Photo Brouhaha Shows How Impossible It Is To Rate Websites

from the mission-impossible dept

Just after the UK’s culture minister, Andy Burnham, announced that he thinks all websites can and should be rated, comes a story that highlights what a ridiculous suggestion it is to say that you can simply classify all websites. Facebook is facing a bit of a backlash after the company started banning some photos of women breast-feeding as being inappropriate. Basically, Facebook has been making its own judgment on which of those photos are “obscene” and which are fine — and it’s pissing off a bunch of moms whose photos have been deleted. And, of course, this is just one simple example. Thinking that there’s some sort of single objective measure by which all sites (or content) can be rated is so wrong it’s hard to believe that someone thinking such a thing was possible could hold down a serious job, let alone elected office.

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Comments on “Breast-Feeding Photo Brouhaha Shows How Impossible It Is To Rate Websites”

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90 Comments
chris (profile) says:

breast feeding in the US is weirdly cultural

breast feeding is a big deal in the US, with womens’ groups acting like breast feeding has been criminalized, or somehow frowned upon. maybe i’m just not aware of the vast conspiracy against breastfeeding… but i’m not surprised at all that there was a huge backlash against facebook taking down the pictures.

here’s why i think there are some strange culture or politics surrounding breast feeding: my first child was born in german hospital and they encouraged breast feeding but there was not a lot of pressure. my wife got a fever a week after delivery and couldn’t continue nursing and it was no big deal. a few months later, at the american military clinic there was a full scale freak out that the baby wasn’t breast fed. for a few minutes i was worried that social workers were going to get involved.

in the US, my second child was adopted as a newborn, and so we got a pass on the whole breastfeeding thing. when my good friend’s wife had a baby a whole team of nurses and “consultants” descended on her to indoctrinate her into breastfeeding complete with someone coming by their house and membership in some sort of league.

so with all the cultural/political investment in the US i am not surprised at all that facebook took a lashing over taking down the pics.

brian says:

The US is very conflicted about breasts and breastfeeding. Two years ago the national restaurant chain Applebees got the shorts in a knot when a mother was asked to cover up at an Arkansas restaurant. She was in a booth and wasn’t flaunting her boobs or anything but someone complained. The manager told her to cover up — despite an Arkansas law that expressly PERMITS public breastfeeding.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: private

Facebook is a private company. I’m sure they have in their terms of use that they can remove any photo of their choice.

Uh, no one said otherwise. The point, though, was that this highlights how difficult it is to categorize content — whether done privately or publicly.

No one is saying Facebook doesn’t have a right to do this.

Lee says:

I wonder if these women realize that they are exposing themselves and their children to becoming masturbation fodder for a segment of the population that has a fetish for breastfeeding, or to some emotionally and sexually stunted person who finds ALL breasts arousing, regardless of the way it is presented.

The women I know would be repulsed by being objectified in such a manner, especially from a photo taken during an intensely private, beautiful and special moment.

And I wonder if they would claim to be persecuted so loudly and so often if they just stopped to think for a moment.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Re: Re:

We can’t stop wearing shoes. Haven’t you ever heard of a foot fetish? We can’t wear socks since socks are too closely related to masturbation already, and we obviously can’t wear shoes. We can’t even cut off the feet themselves since there is an amputation fetish. God damn, we are sick perverts.
/sarcasm

Doug says:

Re: Re:

Seriously? Really, now, that’s the tack you’re going to take?

I wonder if women, and men, of all types realize that they are exposing themselves to becoming masturbation fodder at some point, because no matter what you look like/dress like/do there will always be someone who will find it arousing. Call it a Reverse Rule 34. Honestly, I’m amazed that some segment of the population manage to continue to exist with the levels of sexual repression/misrepresentation that exist.

Let’s say that the photos that were removed were posted by the subjects themselves because they wanted to share that intensely beautiful moment, as I’d wager they were. Ah, fuckit, it’s like teaching calculus to a two year-old.

usmcdvldg says:

Face book fare

To be fare, Facebook has expressed the reason why these photos were removed and others have not. There terms of service specifically state that breast revealing nipples or aureoles won’t be allowed, which seems like a fare and distinct line to draw. If these mothers can’t get over that then they should show there discontent by not using Facebook. But minus that IMHO they should stop whining and take the extra five minutes out of there day to take a Pic that doesn’t expose nipple.

a nonny mouse coward says:

“I wonder if these women realize that they are exposing themselves and their children to becoming masturbation fodder for a segment of the population that has a fetish for breastfeeding, or to some emotionally and sexually stunted person who finds ALL breasts arousing, regardless of the way it is presented.”

I wonder if women who sneeze in public realize they are exposing themselves to becoming masturbation fodder for guys with a sneezing fetish. Hell, I wonder if women who walk around without their burka on realize that somewhere, some horny teenage guy is probably whacking it thinking of them.

Those poor gullible women, so sadly willing to exchange their right to avoid sexual molestation in other people’s private thoughts for the pointless freedom to raise their children in a way they find beneficial without becoming social recluses. Probably best to have a more rational person make the decision for them.

usmcdvldg says:

to Alan Gerow

Actually the law does address that. It seems quite silly, but by most state law, it is not indecent exposure until the nipples or aureoles are exposed, which is the standard Facebook was going by when they review these pictures as stated in my earlier post. It is completely legal for a women to go out in public topless if she has stickers covering her nipples.

usmcdvldg says:

Very fare facebook alan

Geeze, did you even bother to read the LINKED ARTICLE. It even makes it abundantly clear that these women are just pissed they got singled out, and cant obide by simple and quite fare rules which are based on current laws in most areas.

From the linked article

“Photos containing a fully exposed breast (as defined by showing the nipple or areola) do violate those terms (on obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit material) and may be removed,” he said in a statement.

“The photos we act upon are almost exclusively brought to our attention by other users who complain.”

One breast-feeding mother, called Rebekah, said Facebook removed a photograph of her feeding her child.

“I find it offensive that (Facebook) can remove my photo but not the close up picture of a thonged backside I (have) seen on a friend’s page or remove the “what kama sutra position are you?” quiz application,” she wrote.

Unless I’m very under informed, these women are retarded, and represent the core of what is wrong with our culture. IMHO

Baylink (user link) says:

Actually

Places like restaurants, retail stores, and malls are usually characterized as “private places maintained for the public good”, or something akin to that.

Public laws supercede company policy on some points (usually those concerning issues like discrimination) but not on others.

So, for example, a store could opaque its windows and say that it was store policy that shoppers should shop in the nude, and that would be ok, though they’d probably want to provide notice on the entrances.

They could *not*, however, permit shoppers to violate health codes in that they were nude, nor could they discriminate against, say, black people who wanted to shop nude: indecent exposure laws can be overridden by company policies (you’re not in ‘public’ to that degree), but other types of laws cannot.

And the Applebee’s with the problem were in Florida; my local news coverage of the FB flap mentioned it.

usmcdvldg says:

Of course not

Of course its not perverted. But not showing your nipple seems like a fare rule for almost any situation. I don’t think a women should be arrested if she inadvertently displays something while quietly feeding her child. But in the case of uploading a picture where any number of things could be done to avoid breaking this simple guide line, there is no excuse. Take five freaking minutes to take another picture or use ms paint to blotch it out and stop whining. If this is the biggest injustice they have at the moment to complain about, they are very very blessed!

Jason says:

Re: protected activity on facebook

I’m sorry, but you failed to reply correctly. If this was directed to me, then my answer is no. I was simply addressing the side point made regarding Applebees.

The issue with Facebook is that they are expressly calling photos of breastfeeding obscene and alienating a large segment of customers. They may state this or that about nipples, but what actually happens is that someone complains and they practically auto-delete the thing.

Marianne says:

My view - call a spade a spade, or: a breast is a breast is a breast

Breast feeding is a natural normal act associated with feeding human young. Fornication is also a natural normal act originally associated with creating human young to feed. If a mother whips out a breast in public to feed her baby, I say cover it up lady. If a husband and wife start fornicating in public to create a baby, I say get a room and do it in private. And while I am on a roll, defecation is also a natural normal act associated with keeping a human body free of toxins, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to do in public! If they allow photos of bare breasts feeding babies, then why don’t they just allow photos of bare breasts? What exactly is the difference? Bare is bare.

If they allow photo’s of bare breasts for the purpose of feeding babies, then they should allow photo’s of fornication for the purpose of making babies, because if it has that purpose, it’s not pornography, right? I mean, a bare breast with a nipple hanging out about to be glommed onto by a newborn baby, is no different than a bare breast with a nipple hanging out about to be glommed onto by a grown male or female. Bare breast is bare breast.

The women posting pictures online of themselves bare breasted with babies nearby or feeding are just exibitionists. What is the point? Exactly why are they putting their bare breasts on facebook? They are certainly not doing it to just post pictures of their baby. It would have taken less than two seconds to cover up the bare breasts. No, they are posting pictures of their milk engorged breasts, under the guise of posting pictures of themselves with their baby. I’m okay with that. But let’s call a spade a spade and be honest here. Bare breasts are bare breasts. Many people call that porn.

It’s a matter of opinion on whether adding a baby to the picture changes the definition of it being porn or not, but the person with the bad is the person adding a baby to the picture and posting it online, not the person saying the bare breast is objectionable and needs to be posted in a different media forum, like the kind that takes your credit card to view the pictures. Exhibitionism is exhibitionism and putting your baby in a photo online with your bare breasts is just sick and wrong. It’s using your baby to feed voyeurism, and like I said, belongs on a website that takes your credit card before it lets you look at the pictures.

Jason says:

Re: My view - call a spade a spade, or: a breast is a breast is a breast

You’re really not on a roll. You miss the point. There is no need for a woman to take two seconds out of her already exhausting day to cover up a couple of millimeters of aureole so she can take a picture of her baby.

I dare you to come over and tell my wife “Cover it up, lady”. I’ll put your ass on the floor.

usmcdvldg says:

U almost had me

I was with you until that last paragraph. I don’t find anything morally wrong with nudity breast breast feeding or pornography. I personally think that people that have problems with such things need a change in priorities. If you don’t like it don’t look at it. I don’t like gay porn, I find it disgusting so I avoid it. If they played it on fox, guess what, I wouldn’t watch fox. These people aren’t wrong for wanting to show there friends them breast feeding there kids for whatever reason. But Facebook has the right to try to appeal to whatever audience it pleases. And if nipples is where they draw the line then as a practitioner of facebook you have two options, conform or leave. Anything else is a waste of time.

ps. if you think you must pay money to see porn try these on for size.

http://www.redtube.com/
http://www.keezmovies.com/
http://www.tube8.com/

Jason says:

Re: Again Jason

Of course there are. Like I said it’s prompted by complaints. It’s not like Facebook has a nipplebot. I’ve seen completely nipple-less photos deleted and I’ve seen plenty of others not deleted. But it happens and people are pissed and they voiced their opinion to Facebook.

They haven’t sued, they haven’t flung Molotov cocktails, they just said, “Hey we don’t like this, and we’d like you to change your policy.”

Rob (profile) says:

Facebook

Facebook gets to set their own rules, its their site. It is NOT public in the sense that everyone can come use it to do whatever it is they wish.

If Facebook chooses to take photos down, they have that right. Unless these breastfeeding mothers own Facebook they have no reason to complain. AND WE ALL KNOW THAT WOMEN THAT GET PREGNANT CANT BE CEOS OR VALUED MEMBERS OF THE WORKFORCE CUZ THEY BE TAKIN ALL THAT TIME OFF ROFL AMIRITE?!

Jason says:

Re: Facebook

Actually, it’s perfectly legitimate for them to complain. It’s just as legitimate as millions of Facebook users complaining about the new profile layout.

I agree, Facebook has that right. They are not public. You usually can’t even find their content via google. BUT they need to recognize that their exercise of their right calls a sacred act of motherhood an obscenity and a whole lot of their customers are offended.

If that doesn’t bother them, there’s not much else to it.

usmcdvldg says:

Really here....

Here is a site that actually shows the pictures that have been banned. And although there are some that seem “extremely borderline” if not flat out Mistakes (hey no system is perfect.), I think you’ll get the picture Jason, especially when considering there are still thousands of breastfeeding pictures that don’t so blatantly break the rules still on face book.

http://www.tera.ca/photos6.html

Jason says:

Re: Really here....

You don’t get it.

It has nothing to do with where on the woman’s breast the line is drawn. The point is they’re calling motherly nurturing, nourishment, and affection an obscentity!!!

I agree that airbrushed pics of women in lingerie showing their breasts (and practically everything else) is obscene. It’s OBVIOUSLY INTENDED to sexually entice perverts.

I think it’s ABSURD that a woman cuddling her infant against her bare breast is lumped into the same category. Do I think legal action should be taken? No. Do I agree with those women who quietly (honestly some just posted a monochrome vector graphic icon) protested because Facebook’s mindless policy essentially called them all whores? Hell yes!

usmcdvldg says:

Re: Re: Really here....

1. Is the naked human body an obscenity?? There is no difference between breastfeeding and the nude human form. If that is the point you are arguing then all non explicitly sexual nudity is to be allowed and all femine nudity that includes a mother nursing is to be allowed. Guess what, Unless stricking and far reach changes are made to our society, A line must be drawn.

2. Facebook did not call them all whores, they quite plainly said before the users sight was allowed upt that
1. many people find nipples ofensive, and wish there children not to see them.
2. don’t post pictures with nipples

and You might also find it interesting that they went out of there way to try to find a traditional meda company that would accept an ad with a breastfeeding women with nipple shown. they did not find one. I would be iligal and cuase public outcry in many places

usmcdvldg says:

You don't get it!

Look at the web site I posted above. I would never go into your house and tell your wife to do anything. I would never think of interrupting your wife “minus an emergency” while she was nursing in public. These are rights she has. Natural and lawful. Your wife is doing a natural and beautiful thing when she nurses. IMO But guess what, that’s all it is, my opinion. And Facebook has the right to sensor the content in there “house”, if you or your wife doesn’t like it, they can kick her out, In the same manner that I could kick her out of my house for breastfeeding there, although I NEVER would!

I think its silly and retarded that we have banned breasts. But as a society we have, its an accepted norm. Challenging face book won’t help that. A lawsuit might acually change the norm and produce somthing positive. But these women are just social misfits that would rather complain than imporve the situation.

Also, if her day was calm enough to upload a photo to face book, its calm enough “to cover up a couple of millimeters of aureole so she can take a picture of her baby.” as you put it.

Jason says:

Re: You don't get it!

Wait, I’d missed that part. Did you say social misfits? WTF are you on?? Look, MORON, there is NOTHING they can effectively sue over regarding Facebook. A lawsuit would be wasteful and counterproductive.

Since when did it become wrong to complain over an honest grievance?

ALSO, the point is that SHE SHOULDN’T HAVE TO COVER UP breastfeeding, and Facebook should consider their actions before acting like a scared 12yrold boy.

usmcdvldg says:

Re: Re: You don't get it!

Hey I had refrained from calling you names but……………… I digress.

Face book appeals to users of all ages
The plain fact of the matter is that in many locations, it would be illegal for them to do so if they allowed the showing of nudity.

Unless these women plan on changing laws or social norms with some sort of legal precedent. They are wasting there time. Nudity is nudity. I don’t think you get it. I think I should be allowed to walk down the street naked in a non sexual and natural manner. But if I tried got arrested and then complained. guess what, I would be by definition a social misfit. So befor you get PISSED and reveal your emotional attachment to the issue, And your ignorance of both what was said and the meaning behind it. THINK

thxs

Jason says:

Re: Re: Re: You don't get it!

Hey I didn’t miss anything. You called them social misfits, and now you say they are wasting their time. That’s just stupid thinking (see what I did there – I simply point out your capability for idiocy rather than implying you have no other alternative).

But personal jibes aside, your comparison is stupid. Getting arrested for blatantly ignoring the law is a whole world removed from getting snubbed for displaying photos of something that could be displayed on PBS (with federal funding even!).

usmcdvldg says:

Re: Re: Re:2 You don't get it!

ahhhh, you have entered the realm of rules which you previously said wasn’t the issue. I give you chance to rewrite that last point if you wish.

They are being snubbed for blatantly ignoring the rules site, in the same manner I would be arrested for blatantly ignoring the rules of law. the fact that it could be shown on pbs changes nothing. It could not be shown in many other fourms which is neither here nor there. Facebook crafted there rules based on exsiting social norms. No nipples. they blatantly ignored, got snubed, then complained, and thus are social misfits. And incase you wish to argue this point

the difinition is and I quote
One who is unable to adjust to one’s environment or circumstances or is considered to be disturbingly different from others.

they are not this for breastfeeding, or breastfeeding in public, or even for showing nipples. but for as you put it blatantly ignoring the perfectly normal rules put forth by a fsight.

Jason says:

Re: Re: Re:3 You don't get it!

I mention the law because in this case, it actually seems to represent the social norm. Facebook however, is acting out of ignorance and fear. Their rules are not normal, not even imperfectly so. Their rules are stunted and guided by their fear of a minority opinion, loudly voiced. If that is the case, then hopefully these women can succeed.

Now wait, you think pictures of breastfeeding women is disturbingly different from the norm. The only thing disturbing about that is that formula-feeding (which I agree can be a legitimate choice) has been so strongly marketed as to make breastfeeding somehow seem abnormal.

My great grandparents would probably have qualified as prudish, but never would they have considered a breastfeeding woman to be odd or out of place or even remotely obscene. It was and across the globe on the whole, it still is VERY NORMAL.

usmcdvldg says:

Re: Re: Re:4 You don't get it!

NO…. breastfeeding women is not disturbingly different from the norm.

full frontal nipple while breastfeeding is disturbingly different from the norm!!!!!

Even when women breastfeed in public they do not do it in a manner as to highlight there breasts. Go look at the banned photos!!!!

I’m done, by the way, I hope you win your fight because I agree society is wrong. But until playboy pictures are allowed in the newspaper, you won’t and no nipple is a completely reasonable request

Jason says:

Re: Re: Re:5 You don't get it!

Do you know someone who breastfeeds. It’s not like the nipple somehow jumps into hiding when the baby suddenly jerks her head away. IF breastfeeding is normal, then yeah full frontal nipple while doing so is by direct inference, UNAVOIDABLY normal.

You really seem excited about those banned photos in a different way than I am.

I’m also done. It’s time we gave Masnick his blog back. Mike, thanks for your patience.

usmcdvldg says:

Re: Re: You don't get it!

And yes I know you don’t think its a legal issue, but I don’t seem to be able to express to you that unless there rights as people were denied. which they weren’t it is, as this is how society gauges action.

The funny thing is I agree with you on all points except that women are in the wrong for this simple reason.

usmcdvldg says:

No it dosn't

Because I still don’t think you get it. I see what your saying and in this case I guess we have to agree to disagree. atleast you have a coherent thought in your head.

My complaint is that from what I have seen around the web, these woman aren’t complaining that facebook is against breastfeed,( which they categorically are not). The’re complaining that there nipples are worse than a thong or than a girl in a bikini. But that these same woman would probobly be the first ones to complain about porn on tv; because there kids might see it. Or the first to complain if I put my penis, which is natural and beautiful, up as my photo.

usmcdvldg says:

Re: Re: No it dosn't

1. Is the naked human body an obscenity?? There is no difference between breastfeeding and the nude human form. If that is the point you are arguing then all non explicitly sexual nudity is to be allowed and all femine nudity that includes a mother nursing is to be allowed. Guess what, Unless stricking and far reach changes are made to our society, A line must be drawn.

2. Facebook did not call them all whores, they quite plainly said before the users sight was allowed upt that
1. many people find nipples ofensive, and wish there children not to see them.
2. don’t post pictures with nipples

and You might also find it interesting that they went out of there way to try to find a traditional meda company that would accept an ad with a breastfeeding women with nipple shown. they did not find one. I would be iligal and cuase public outcry in many places

Jason says:

Re: Re: Re: No it dosn't

1. Yes, it’s all about context. If you saw it on PBS in an anthropology documentary about New Guinea and complained to the FCC, they would politely hang up the phone and laugh at you. If you saw it wiggled and jiggled and popping out of a g-string, any simp is going to say, yeah, that’s porn.

2. Facebook called it obscenity. It’s part of their rules regarding obscenity.

I don’t find it interesting at all. I think it’s a lame excuse and sort of pathetic, and I call bullshit. I bet I could find a traditional media company that has already done that.

usmcdvldg says:

Re: Re: Re:2 No it dosn't

No its not about context, there just happen to be different rules for different places.

Guess what, many people find exposed nipples to be an obscenity. what do you not get about this. you can do many things on pbs you can’t do in public or face book, let me list some of them.

defecate in full view un obstructed.
give birth
perform nude rain dances
hunt in the nude
scream obscenities in a foreign tongue
perform penis lengthening with a stick( yes i’ve seen this done on pbs)
show a man with elephantiasis of the testicles wheel them around with a wheelbarrow, (yep saw that too)

I say you should, facebook would die without advertisement, and finding high quality reputable advertisers that support that sort of thing would actually help this silly cause, as apposed to complaining.

Jason says:

Re: Re: Re:3 No it dosn't

– PBS – PUBLIC Broadcasting System. It’s about as public as you get.

– Penis lengthing -> probably slipped past because no one (except the misfits) sat around to check that one out.

– Elephantitis – blink, blink, um alright

– foreign obscenities, happens all the time and is generally accepted in traditional media as well, esp british obscenities

– giving birth in public is also legal (seriously, what the hell you gonna do?)

– nude rain dances/hunt in the nude/penis lengthening – extremely very context specific, also has been done in traditional media, and so far seems to support my point

So far you are not arguing against me, did you know that?

lisa Westveld says:

Breastfeeding is bad!

[Sarcasm]First of all I need to point out that breastfeeding pictures are pure hardcore childporn. Here you have a young baby sucking on the breast of a half-naked woman, who clearly is enjoying this sexual act. You can often see breastfeeding mothers smiling and encouraging their baby to continue to suckle. It gives them great joy and that should be forbidden.
Babies should not feed themselves on breasts! This is why baby formulas has been invented. And for those mothers who still think they should feed their babies breastmilk, there are special tools available to extract the milk from their breasts, clean it from all kinds of impurities before it can be given to the baby.
By the way, it is also wrong to have babies born in the nude. During pregnancy a doctor should insert baby clothing around the unborn child and it should be born using a Caesarean section, so the mother does not need to take off her underpants while giving birth. Using this procedure will avoid all those nudity images that fathers of unborn children like to make during the birth of their child because honestly, it’s disgusting…[/Sarcasm]

Okay, let’s hope there are no crazy persons on this world who agrees with what I said just now… πŸ™‚

RomeoSidVicious says:

Facebook has a right to define what sorts of pictures will be allowed on their website. I don’t think anyone will decry that point. Actually some will but I don’t think any rational person would decry the point.

The women in question also have a right to raise their collective voice and attempt to have the policy changed. They have this right whether anyone agrees with them at all. As long as facebook allows the group to exist and to raise their complaints they can do it right there on facebook.

The only thing that this highlights is how hard it is to categorize content. The debate over whether or not these women are a bunch of crazy ingrates vs breastfeeding a beautiful and natural thing is pretty much moot for all intents and purposes.

I think the real issue here is that this story highlights the problem of classifying content. Are we to block our ever growing teenage pregnant population from access to sites showing how to breastfeed? Many filters, even ones in place in libraries, do this already. It is a single point highlighting an actual problem without being a problem in the actual instance in which it is presented. It can be extrapolated, and has in these comments, to apply to other situations. That is where the discussion lies and not in facebook doing something within their rights and people protesting that something within their rights. The actual topic of breastfeeding doesn’t matter at all.

onLineGuru (user link) says:

I wonder if women, and men, of all types realize that they are exposing themselves to becoming masturbation fodder at some point, because no matter what you look like/dress like/do there will always be someone who will find it arousing. Call it a Reverse Rule 34. Honestly, I’m amazed that some segment of the population manage to continue to exist with the levels of sexual repression/misrepresentation that exist.

Blair (user link) says:

I agree with banned picture, of course not all of them. But nobody want that Facebook became a place of adult pics. If they let everyone to put all kind of pics, then all their campaign work will be ruined. There are also children that have access and accounts on facebook, so I don’t think that are people who want that their children see breast(fiding) on facebook.

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