#FreeTheNipple campaign leads to breastfeeding nipple-shot ban reversal by Facebook

Facebook comes under fire for all manner of things -- it's just part and parcel of being a social network. When users are not up in arms at the site's privacy policies, they are found voicing their disapproval at the types of content they're not allowed to publish on their timelines. There are lots of types of pictures that are frowned upon, and parents were upset to find that many of the photos they posted fell foul of Facebook's moderators. Facebook's Community Standards have never included a stated ban on breastfeeding pictures, but those that included glimpses of nipples were often swiftly removed. A well-publicized campaign that used the hashtag #FreeTheNipple seems to have had the desired result.

As noticed by The Independent, there has been a softening of views as Facebook Moderators are now encouraged to consider the context in which nipples appear in photographs. The Community Standards state "Facebook has a strict policy against the sharing of pornographic content and any explicitly sexual content where a minor is involved. We also impose limitations on the display of nudity". But there is the caveat that "we aspire to respect people’s right to share content of personal importance, whether those are photos of a sculpture like Michelangelo's David or family photos of a child breastfeeding".

Further clarification is given on Facebook's help pages. Under the heading "Does Facebook allow photos of mothers breastfeeding?", comes the reply that "Yes. We agree that breastfeeding is natural and beautiful and we're glad to know that it's important for mothers to share their experiences with others on Facebook. The vast majority of these photos are compliant with our policies. Please note that the photos we review are almost exclusively brought to our attention by other Facebook members who complain about them being shared on Facebook".

Facebook has confirmed the change in policy to both The Independent and The Verge but has not issued any comment on the change of heart. Considering the publicity the #FreeTheNipple movement managed to gain, it's hard to imagine that the change cannot be at least partly attributed to the work of campaigners.


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