Facebook Bans Breastfeeding, Now Taking on Birth

birthFirst it was the pictures of women daring to feed their babies via their boobies. Then Facebook found a new way to hate on women. They took one look at childbirth photographer Laura Eckert's pics and kicked her straight off the site. So how does one stay-at-home mom make a multibillion-dollar empire cry uncle?

The Stir tracked down Eckert in Iowa, where she considers herself to be a stay-at-home mom to her three kids, using her photography business New Creation Photography as her social and creative outlet, to find out. She turned to Facebook as an inexpensive means to get the word out about her business ... in a place that she thought was great for moms to share the photos she takes.


I know what you're thinking -- or at least I know what I was thinking -- these were photos Laura Eckert expected women to share on their own Facebooks. How bad can they be if women are putting them up where Uncle Milton can see them? We're not talking gratuitous vag shots when a woman is giving birth.

Things were fine until she logged onto her e-mail on December 22 to find a big ol' warning from Facebook telling her one of her photos was "in violation of their terms of use," the same warning given to the moms who have been kicked off the site for sharing photos of their babies eating. She figured the one photo would be flagged, but instead Facebook disabled her entire personal account immediately, along with her business profile and another called Birth Photography and wouldn't tell her why.

"After hearing nothing else from FB at all, I began doing some Internet research and found that lots of people were in the same boat for many different reasons, from posting breastfeeding photos to making too many posts in one day," Eckert told The Stir. "The commonality was that very few people ever got a response from FB. There's a phone number that you can call, only to leave a message that never gets returned, and there are several customer service email addresses that never get replied to."

She continued to send e-mail after e-mail, always positive, upbeat, never badgering the customer service reps. Still, nothing. Then she found an ally. A birth client -- the same type of woman Eckert has depended on to post photos ON Facebook to grow her business -- set up a Restore Laura Eckert's Account page on the social networking site. The groundswell went from there. The Leaky B@@b fans joined the cause, and she decided to follow their example of going to the media.

"I decided to test the theory about the media being the only ones that could get through to FB. I posted my story on our local news channel's (KCRG's) 'YouNews' site," Eckert explained. She expected nothing, but when coming home from a music class, there was a KCRG vehicle waiting for her. ABC wanted the story. So she did the interview.

"I got an e-mail later in the day from the reporter with the response they'd gotten from Facebook, a response they got almost immediately following their request," Eckert says. "The next day I also got a call from the AP reporter. About half an hour before the AP guy showed up, I got an email from FB apologizing for the inconvenience and saying the account was 'disabled in error.' What do you know, the moment the media got involved, my account was restored!"

And she finally found out what caused the hullabaloo. The photo below:

Facebook birth photos

See that? Yup, it's a combination of birth and breastfeeding, which has the Facebook police all freaked out! And at the time it was put up, it followed all the Facebook rules, which Eckert read carefully.

"I am all for Facebook removing pornography and inappropriate materials, and I understand that in order to do that they have to have policies about what is appropriate and what isn't. So I read everything I could find to be in compliance. At the time, it specifically said that you could not show genitalia or female nipple. I cropped a couple so that they met the guidelines and reposted. Didn't hear anything else about them until December 22nd."

Apparently Facebook adapted its photo policy in the time between her posting the photo and December 22. Ironically, that's something they get support from Eckert on -- as both a mom and a photographer.

"When they had the 'no nipples' policy, you could still post really inappropriate pics ... just with no nipples showing," she explained. "I believe that they really are trying to eliminate that stuff by broadening out the definition a little bit. But I really wish they would use a little common sense when censoring. 

"Everything I posted was discrete and tasteful, and it's all stuff I would let my own children see. In fact I think it's GOOD for children to see breastfeeding photos and discrete photos of births. It helps spark a discussion with their parents that is healthy for their development! I would much rather they see a woman in that context than in many other contexts on Facebook."

What do you think: does Facebook have a problem with women?


Images courtesy of Laura Eckert/New Creation Photography

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