After 22 Breastfeeding Photos Reported, Mom Seeks a Policy Change From Facebook
Breastfeeding has taken over social media during the last 5 years and only for the past two years has Facebook created a policy that “supports” breastfeeding for mothers to share their breastfeeding images, without having them removed due being sexual content or nudity. Unfortunately, the ability to report images for nudity can be abused by those who simply don’t agree with the community standard. Because of this, many mothers face harassment by “trolls” and others who are unaware that the images are not only approved, but protected. This mama has created a petition to change that and she needs your support to stop this harassment.
by Adrienne Griffin
“When I became a mom, I did not foresee that I would also become an activist. My children help me grow in countless ways; they also increase the desire in me to make this world a better place for every child. I think every mom wants give their child the very best start in life. I always knew I wanted to breastfeed. With my first daughter they’re were unforeseen complications. She needed thickened fluids, so I was relegated to exclusive pumping. That didn’t go so well for me, but I’m stubborn, so I refused to give up until I tried everything I could. Quitting the pump was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I felt like a failure. I couldn’t give my baby the best. Eventually, I came to terms with the fact that the best thing for us, was that mommy was healthy and present. Giving up the pump helped me get there. When baby number two came along, I was determined to have the relationship I’d craved with my first daughter. I was going to breastfeed or bust. This new baby was a boobie baby. She nursed on demand. We co slept simply because she cluster fed and the only way I could sleep was to keep her next to the milk. She ended up having lip and tongue ties. It was so painful. I even experienced a case of mastitis. The pain I went through is a distant memory now, but at the time it was so intense I would gasp when she latched and I would cry silently while she suckled. But nothing would stop me. I was determined. So we pressed on, we dealt with several obstacles and survived them. So, to say I’m proud to have successfully breastfed is an understatement. When you’re a nursing mother your breastfeeding consumes your life. Your schedule revolves around how and when your child eats, but you have a life and sometimes other children, so this means you will be feeding your child in many different situations. I had to get used to this.
I’m a pretty modest lady, so nursing in public was awkward in the beginning. I used a cover until it proved futile. Baby did not want to be covered, she got hot in there, she wanted to see me and eventually she wanted to look around at her surrounding. So I began layering and using my top shirt to cover. I would take #brelfies and post on my social media. I wanted to capture these memories. I wanted to share them with my mommy friends in solidarity. Then the more I realized how some people viewed breastfeeding, I wanted to make it normal again.A mom feeding her baby isn’t crude, it isn’t sexual, and is not something that needs to be hidden in dark corners. It’s beautiful, it’s routine, it’s necessary, it’s normal and it needs to happen more. I know personally how hard it can be to feed your child, to not give up when it’s excruciating, to continue even though sometimes you just want your body back, and to suck up your insecurities and just feed your baby wherever you may be.
When National Breastfeeding Month came around, I read statistics and heard things that just increased my desire to help normalize breastfeeding. I want to be beacon of hope, an example, and an inspiration to other moms. So I shared some of my favorite breastfeeding photos, making a collage for my cover and profile pictures on Facebook. I was proud but I was also nervous. I didn’t know if I might offend someone, but I had no idea I would be harassed. When the first reports for nudity came, I felt sick. I felt violated. I felt angry. I felt hurt. So I made a rant about it on my page and decided to keep posting more photos. I told this person that I was going to post more because obviously I have more work to do to help normalize breastfeeding. The reports kept coming. So my rants continued. I would share information on the benefits of breastfeeding to mother and child, including extended breastfeeding, since I was now nursing a toddler. I would share more links and articles on breastfeeding. I also committed to regularly posting #brelfies at least once a week. I wanted to open people’s minds. I received so much support through all of this, from friends and family. The encouragement felt great. But I still felt violated. The reports continued. With each report I began filling out feedback to Facebook. It went pretty much like this: ‘someone keeps reporting my photos for nudity, breastfeeding does not violate your standards. Can you update your policy to prevent these reports and block people who continue to file reports unnecessarily.’
I did this many times, and Facebook never responded other than scripted dialogue that referred me to review their standards, which clearly state that breastfeeding is not in violation of the nudity clause of the Facebook Community Standards. Yet, I felt defeated and alone. So I weeded through my friends list, by November I’d deleted 1/3 of my “friends”. I had no idea who could be doing this though. I would share a #brelfie to friends only, just to test the waters at times, no reports. I thought I must have gotten rid of them, but I was still perturbed that Facebook let me get reported over 20 times and didn’t seem to care that this was a form of harassment. Facebook was allowing someone to bully me, under the cover of anonymous reports.
On New year’s day, I publicly shared the article regarding Josh Moore, who thought mothers breastfeeding in public should expect men to stare and even grope their breasts. I jokingly wrote, he could use a nice kick in the face. I also posted the ATTN: video on breastfeeding rights. When I woke up my account was suspended for violating Facebook community standards. This was the moment I decided enough was enough. I filled out several reports and received canned statements, but no help. So I took screenshots of the reports and posted my story on some breastfeeding support pages. Hoping it would spread, and that Facebook would have to answer for their failings.
These so called community standards aren’t applied equally to everyone. They don’t protect people from harassment or bullying, especially via anonymous reports. Breastfeeding mom’s shouldn’t have to deal with constant reports of their photos. This needs to stop. I’ve overcome a lot in my breastfeeding journey, from postpartum depression to feeding a teething toddler. I’m a fighter. I’m pretty determined. So, you picked the wrong mom to mess with. I will be a voice for mothers like me. I will not cower, I will not hide, and I won’t be silent. I’m just trying to normalize breastfeeding.”
Facebook needs to protect breastfeeding moms. Stop the harassment of anonymous nudity reports.