Sunday, January 6, 2013

That Time my Picture Got Banned from Facebook

Recently, The Feminist Breeder had a major Facebook scuffle.  She posted a photo on Facebook of her daughter trying to decide between breastfeeding and eating a piece of bacon.  Anyone who has breastfed a toddler has so been there, when your lap is full of a very willful creature who loves their milk but sometimes chooses a particular foodie treat above the breast.  It's a hilarious moment.  TFB's photo didn't show any nipple.  It got reported, and she was suspended.

In response, Gina (TFB) launched an awareness campaign.  She asked her readers for photos of themselves breastfeeding and planned to publish a photo per hour for 72 hours; the same amount of time she had been banned for her Bacon vs. Breast photo (also known now as "Bacongate").  I sent her a couple of mine.  Including this one:

It was up for less than an hour.  Almost 500 people "liked" it, and around 70-ish people commented on it.  Lots of positive feedback: go mama!  Good for you, your toddler looks so happy and healthy!  Tandem nursing photos are great!  And some negative vitriol: That child is WAY to old to be 'on the nip!'  That's disgusting!  You will make your child a pedophile breastfeeding him at that age!

And suddenly?  Poof, it was gone.  Outcry.  But no one was all that surprised.  Facebook has strict policies regarding what you can post and what you can't.  Breastfeeding photos are allowed, but not if the nipple is showing or the child is not 'actively nursing.'  As you can see, my photo complies with this policy quite well.  People just can't get their heads outta their asses when it comes to breastfeeding a toddler, preschooler, or school aged child.

I didn't care.  I had figured my photo wouldn't last long anyways.  TFB got lots of high profile press for the campaign, and my photo got her banned for a further week, with a threat to delete her account altogether if she kept it up.  None of my friends and family would report that kind of photo (and indeed, it was my profile picture for a month last year during another FB anti breastfeeding protest and no one reported it, deleted it, or said anything nasty).  It was kind of interesting to watch the drama unfold; several days later, TFB's suspension was reversed, the photo was returned, and all its comments along with it.  An apology was sent, but Gina was fed up.  She withdrew from dynamic interaction with Facebook and wrote this post outlining why.  Interestingly enough, that photo has been removed again since the campaign, because I went to get a copy of it for this post from my Facebook photos?  And it's gone.  I checked TFB's page?  Gone from there too.  I have other copies, but interesting that it was removed again, silently, after an apology was sent and it republished with all its original comments and likes attached.

By that time, a number of people had commented or sent links to Gina regarding questionable Facebook practices.  Like, the existence of Rape Positive pages.  Breast/boob/tit fetish pages.  Pages that promote violence against women.  A page that created The 12 Year Old Slut Meme.  (Source: I couldn't bear to click or link to the actual pages but this Huff Post article is credible and you are welcome to click on links from it).  Facebook deletes photos of women nurturing their children at the breast like it's going out of style (which serves to make women feel like they are doing something abnormal or nasty just by breastfeeding.  Because somehow it's totally natural and amazing and you've GOTTA DO IT but simultaneously it's disgusting and NO ONE WANTS TO SEE THAT), but they won't delete rape positive messages?  Boob fetish pages?  A page called "Kicking a Slut in the Vagina and losing your foot inside" stays?  "I kill bitches" is less offensive than me breastfeeding a three year old?  Are you effing kidding me?  These pages are supposed to be funny.  I don't find that kind of hate and degradation funny.  Why do so many people find violence against women entertaining?  I'm a pretty passionate advocate against violence against women.  It's a pretty damn big problem, and not just in Afghanistan.  For example:
  1. Number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq: 6,614:
  2. Number of women, in the same period, killed as the result of domestic violence in the US: 11,766

The longer I read through all the ways Facebook allows or endorses discrimination against women, the more disgusted I am with humanity.  A friend recently showed me a link to this article about Facebook moderators; paid $1 an hour in developing countries, these moderators are subjected to images of humans being dismembered, beaten, raped, beheaded, and to images of animal abuse, to name a few.  The sheer volume of images and pages which need moderation is astronomical when you consider that Facebook has over 845 million users.  Images flagged for moderation are remarkably open to misuse, abuse, or dissemination by those moderators, as well.  My tandem breastfeeding photo could be used in porn or photo shopped or sold or whatnot by a weird or messed up or poor employee who was moderating.  It could be stolen from this blog and the same done with it too, but at least I'm not actively engaging with the entity that is disseminating my information.  Endorsing it by virtue of having an account.

Much of this, and the discussion surrounding women's rights and the mysogynist motivation behind FaceMash (the precurser to Facebook) have made me take a step back from Facebook.  I've been withdrawing from there and coming back here more often, posting even small snippets that I would have put on Facebook before.  I just get a bit disheartened by the dark side of Facebook.  Okay, a lot.


kristen said...

The schizophrenic attitude about bodies and breasts pervasive in western misogynistic culture is incredibly upsetting.

(One personal word on breastfeeding: I wish I knew you when my son was breastfeeding! I could have learned so much from you. My milk dried up at 9 months, but I would have liked to continue much longer.)

I have all these disjointed and random thoughts about Facebook floating around in my head lately, especially since our discussion on Tamie's blog. One is that Facebook is a microcosm, complete with the positives and negatives of the world at large -- the contradictions, the fears, the hypocrisies. I don't know exactly where to go with that...but it's just a thought, or even a visual. I know that I want to both reject Facebook and also embrace its potential. It's creating some cognitive dissonance, to put it mildly.

I am one of those people who pays attention to the source and/or motivations behind anything and everything. This means that it's really difficult for me to contemplate Facebook without contemplating Mark Zuckerberg. I can't help but think that his vapidity tainted that which he made, and I don't think he gives two shits about the suffering of those paid $1 an hour to view the atrocities of the world via his master creation.

You can bet that if a wiser, more aware, and more compassionate person came up with the idea...well first of all, it wouldn't be named Facebook....that it would not have these issues, these drastic incongruencies and hypocrisies.

Cale and I joked once about making a "Depthbook"...or at least some social network that is not meant to be focused on service interactions and the glossy sheen of the exterior, but the depths and interiors of each person and their meaningful connections with each other.

Tonya said...

Very sad commentary on Facebook. Our culture in general as well. It is very disheartening to read all that FB allows and then bans a breastfeeding photo? That is seriously messed up. What a truly twisted world we live in.

Tonya said...

Very sad commentary on Facebook. Our culture in general as well. It is very disheartening to read all that FB allows and then bans a breastfeeding photo? That is seriously messed up. What a truly twisted world we live in.