Its 1.06 billion monthly active users can't be wrong: Facebook is really, really good at a lot of things. When it comes to staying connected, forging new relationships, and sharing information, there's a reason Facebook is the most used social network in the world. Unfortunately, when it comes to policing user-submitted photos, Facebook just can't quite seem to get it right.
Well, okay, in terms of sheer numbers we probably have to assume Facebook gets it right more than they get it wrong. But most Facebook photo controversies have a way of making headlines, and the company has come under fire for all sorts of photo-blocking decisions (including, hilariously, this image of a woman's elbows). The most recent kerfuffle came when Facebook deleted the images posted by breastfeeding advocate Kristy Kemp, then blocked her from the site -- but based on their subsequent response, it appears the social media giant may be getting more sensitive to the public accusations of censorship.
Kemp runs the support page Breastfeeding/Mama Talk, and she was outraged when she realized Facebook had pulled several images of women nursing their children. She was locked out of the page for 24 hours when one of its 4,300 fans posted a closeup photo of a breastfeeding toddler, when she was able to log back in, she was blocked again when she posted a photo of a different mom feeding her baby and her 5-year-old at the same time.
After Kemp was banned from the site for the second time, she couldn't log back in for three days. She told Fox40,
It’s not right. I’m trying to do good for mothers and I’m getting kicked off for posting pictures of the most beautiful act a mother can do her for kid. It’s not right.
For Kemp, the move by Facebook must have felt personal -- she says she initially created the page because she felt shamed when she nursed her own son in public, and she wanted to provide a supportive space for breastfeeding moms.
Kemp reportedly spent days trying to get a response from Facebook, but the company didn't address the issue until they were contacted by Fox40. Facebook has now apologized to Kemp, saying:
A member of our team accidentally removed something you posted on Facebook. This was mistake [sic], and we sincerely apologize for this error.
Yeah, I call bullshit on the "accidentally" part, since it happened more than once. And it sucks that Kemp didn't hear back until the media got involved.
Still, for those who feel strongly that breastfeeding images shouldn't be censored from Facebook, it seems like a small -- but maybe important -- victory. Facebook clearly doesn't have a bulletproof photo policy, but they've got to be feeling some pressure to make improvements. Whether that means developing a better algorithm for evaluating user-reported violations or providing better training for the human employees who determine whether an image falls in line with their stated acceptance of "the vast majority" of breastfeeding photos, I'm sure this is something Facebook is focusing on. After all, bad PR is a powerful thing.
Are you surprised Facebook keeps getting into hot water with breastfeeding advocates?
Image via sdminor81/Flickr