Thursday, January 12, 2012

On Going At It Again

I've been putting off posting for a while because of some crazy personal life stuff, but this needs to be said.

Facebook is at it again.

I don't mean that in a "oh, that crazy Facebook" way where we all shake our heads and have a hearty laugh and then go back to our daily lives. I mean that for over a year now they have been consistently deleting photos from the profiles of women who have posted pictures of themselves or ANYBODY ELSE breastfeeding, and on top of that they have subsequently been locking and blocking profiles associated with those pictures left and right. There are probably a hundred if not more groups on Facebook demanding that so-and-so's profile be unblocked or group be reinstated; there are easily a thousand or more pressuring Facebook to follow the laws of the state in which their main office (and thus they) are located, which happens to be California. You see, the law of California protects the rights of the breastfeeding woman. Want a copy of their laws? Find it here. California has been protecting the rights of breastfeeding mothers since 1997, when its first law ensuring a woman could breastfeed wherever she needs to was passed and put into force.

The problem?

The California law specifically states, and I quote, "except the private home or residence of another". That is a huge fucking loophole that, if you ask me, is probably how Facebook is continuing to allow people to report (and thus subsequently remove) pictures posted on profiles of women breastfeeding. It's what we in the not-really-legal profession call "a huge fucking loophole" because one would assume that if someone sees a picture of breastfeeding that they don't want to see, they're probably seeing it in their house, and thus they've every right (through the state of California) to report that picture and even that profile or group to avoid seeing it again - even if it belongs to someone that tends to post pictures like that, or join groups that contain numerous similar pictures or posts, and even if the reporting individual is fairly sure that this will continue. To make matters worse, because of Facebook's new timeline feature and subscription options that automatically leave everyone seeing what everybody else says without people going through their list and turning off subscriptions for every person on there by hand, people indeed are inadvertently seeing comments, posts, pictures, and group activity that other people on their friends list may not care about or want to see - and if they can't see the whole post and click on it, they're likely to be subjected to something that shouldn't concern them.

What does this mean?

It means a couple of things. First of all, it means that 1) via California's breastfeeding protection laws, Facebook may actually be doing something painfully legal, even though the pictures are being hosted elsewhere and the homes in which said pictures are being viewed could be located absolutely anywhere. 2) It means that even if Facebook is still in the wrong simply because of the other logistics (and they are), this is a very real loophole that needs to be closed ASAP by the California legislature with a "no loophole" clause that insists that pictures posted from California or viewed in California households are not subjected to the "except the private home or residence of another" stipulation. (And if they don't close this loophole, there's the very real possibility that Facebook can and will continue abusing their own policies.)

The amusing thing is that Facebook has no algorithm in place to detect which pictures may show more potential nudity than others; if so, (WARNING: NUDITY) pages like this and profile pictures like this and this and this whole fucking page wouldn't exist. (Which reminds me of this page, and this one too.) There are thousands, MILLIONS more, not including the profiles of men and women alike who post way more inappropriate pictures that show far more nudity than the average picture of a woman breastfeeding her child. There are pages, apps, groups and profiles completely dedicated to the dehumanization of women, to the sexualization of children, and to nearly every single illegal act you can think of. There are more of these than there are pages, groups, profiles, and even pictures that support the beautiful bond between a woman and her children, that show the benefits of breastfeeding for mother and child. Facebook is a misogynist's dream, mostly because there are very few things that we women are capable of that a man typically isn't, and one of those things is breastfeeding.

Which Facebook wants to shutter back behind closed doors. Again.

There have of course been ups and downs. Facebook briefly apologized for "wrongly" removing a picture on a woman's profile in America, but soon opened itself up to Canadian criticism when not more than a couple of weeks later they were shutting down numerous groups and profiles and removing pictures from pages and groups owned and moderated by individuals located in Canada. One woman even made the news and was interviewed extensively about what she has experienced. There's an official page on Facebook supporting Emma Kwasnica and her breastfeeding pictures, which I am a part of.

So what on earth can or should we do about this?

Well, first of all, go sign this petition to the California state legislature (that I wrote, go me!) asking them to change a loophole in their breastfeeding protection laws that may be enabling Facebook to continue removing pictures at their discretion under the guise of being pornographic or containing "sexual nudity". Once you've done that, go grab the Open Letter to Facebook that I wrote last year and find every single form you can fill out to the Facebook administrators, then send it off. You may edit that letter however you please and you do not need to attribute it to me when you send it, but I would ask that you please link back to that post or this one if you mention it online. Then, if you're really feeling up to some good, flood your profile with pictures of breastfeeding women - I really love seeing them remove pictures of the Virgin Mary breastfeeding Jesus, that always gets me somehow (and I don't mean that in an angry way, I mean that it really goes to show how terrified of breastfeeding they are) - and wait to see the fireworks.

Then, go have a boob-filled day.

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