Heartless Madeleine McCann Facebook Page Doesn't Break Rules but Breastfeeding Pics Do?

Five years after Madeleine McCann's high-profile disappearance, Scotland Yard said they believed it was possible Maddie could still be alive, and released a photo depicting what she might look like today at 9 years old. Unfortunately, police in Portugal refused to re-open the case, saying there were "no new elements ... that would allow for the reopening of the inquiry."

While British police continue to review forensic evidence, including new leads that reportedly include fresh sightings of the little girl, one Facebook pundit has been busy creating an extremely helpful page that has surely been a pleasure for those who care about the missing girl.

It's titled, "If this gets one million likes, I will let Maddie out of my basement.”


Apparently the oh-so-clever page creator used an image of a cartoon teddy bear for the profile pic and wittily added, “Hahahaha I have her in my basement.” The page had been liked by over 400 Facebook users before the site was taken down, but according to at least one source, it was only removed because of the fake profile.

Facebook refused to comment, but a source told the Daily Record that the page content itself doesn't break Facebook’s rules:

The page is intended to be humorous and the target of the humour -- Madeleine McCann -- is a public figure. As a result, it does not breach our terms.

Now, who knows whether this "source" really represents Facebook, but this is from the site's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities:

You will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.

Is a page dedicated to mocking the tragic disappearance of a little girl hateful? Man, I'd say so. But it seems like Facebook is way more concerned with the nudity part of those rules—at least where boobs are concerned.

The social media giant has been repeatedly accused of blocking accounts with breastfeeding photos and deleting groups that are dedicated to lactation. This practice has pissed off enough breastfeeding advocates that there have been multiple organized “nurse-ins” outside of Facebook offices, and triggered a response from the company:

On some occasions, breastfeeding photos contain nudity -- for example an exposed breast that is not being used for feeding -- and therefore violate our terms. When such photos are reported to us and are found to violate our policies, the person who posted the photo is contacted, and the photos are removed. Our policies strive to fit the needs of a diverse community while respecting everyone’s interest in sharing content that is important to them, including experiences related to breastfeeding.

The thing is, Facebook's process for reporting photos or pages relies on human decisions. Someone has to manually report content to complain about it, and someone on the site's end has to review it and decide if it violates their rules. Frankly, it seems to me that the first key to avoid having breastfeeding photos blocked is not to be friends with the types of ninnies who are offended by a rogue boob or two.

But back to the McCann page. While the lines between nudity and hate speech may be blurred, one thing's clearly spelled out: Fake profiles are not allowed. So unless that person has the balls to attach their real name to the "I will let Maddie out of my basement" page, we'll likely never know if Facebook would have banned it. As for whether or not they should have, I'd say if a breastfeeding mother's body is considered nudity, then this dumb page should definitely be considered hateful.

What do you think about Facebook's policies—should free speech reign, or are you glad there are rules about the content that shows up there?

Image via bixentro/Flickr

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