Facebook’s Breastfeeding Ban

closePlease note: This post was published over a year ago, so please be aware that its content may not be quite so accurate anymore. Also, the format of the site has changed since it was published, so please excuse any formatting issues.

There's nothing wrong with breastfeedingAlthough I’m late in writing this post since this issue is now resolved, I wanted to write it anyway because of a conversation we had at work today.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, popular social networking site was banning pictures from its site that depicted women breastfeeding their children. A lot of people (most women, but not exclusively) were unhappy with this, arguing that breastfeeding is a natural act, and that hiding it or calling it inappropriate could potentially cause new mothers to shy away from doing it.

Those against it argued, if you call breastfeeding natural, where do we draw the line? Nudity is natural, sex is natural, so how do we delineate between them?

The resolution to the argument came from Facebook in the form of a modification to their photo policy: breastfeeding is acceptable, provided no nipples or areolae are visible. This change came after supporters protested both online and in person at the Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, CA.

The initial ban was, however, not up for debate. Facebook is not public property; the First Amendment doesn’t apply there. Because Facebook is owned by a company, the rules of the site are at the company’s sole discretion. If the company doesn’t want pictures on their website, it’s not affront to the Constitution but a completely legal decision, and one with which the members of the site must comply.

In an instance such as this, there are only three remedies: deal with it, stop using the service, or complain to those in charge. In this case, the latter option worked and Facebook revised its photo policy, but had they remained steadfast, they wouldn’t have been wronging anyone.

The discussion we had at work that caused me to think about this again was one about serving alcohol to people at restaurants. One of the women in the office is pregnant, and we were joking about going down to a restaurant for happy hour. That brought up a story about how a restaurant once got sued for refusing to serve alcohol to a pregnant woman, and that restaurants are legally required to serve you.

I quickly pointed out that this is not the case. Restaurants, like any other business, have the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason (including none at all). Further, if you are on private property (which you usually are if you’re in a restaurant) and are asked to leave, failure to comply with the request is illegal; at that point, you’re trespassing.

The same is true in your place of residence. If someone comes over to your house and is being a jerk, you can tell them to leave and call the police if they don’t.

The bottom line is that, although we have freedom of expression and the right to be (almost) anywhere we want in public, those same rights cease to apply in a private setting.

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8 Comments

  1. I wanted to point this out, but I didn’t want to write it in the main post:

    The same is true of my website. I allow anyone in the world to post any comment they want, but because the blog is my property, I can edit or delete anyone’s comment at any time for any reason. The author of the comment doesn’t have any rights when it comes to work they publish on my site, and I often delete comments that I feel don’t add to the discourse of the site (for example, spam).

    There is a caveat, however. If I delete or edit certain comments, I will lose credibility in the eyes of my audience. If someone’s viewpoint differs from my own, I’m not going to delete their comment because of it. In fact, it would stupid of me to delete their comment when I could reply to it and further enforce and defend my point of view.

    And who knows, I might just change my mind. It’s happened in the past.

    Also, I’d like to point out how hard it is to find a picture of breastfeeding that clearly depicts the act without showing nipples or areolae.

  2. You can edit my comments, I’m OK with it. ^_^

    HAHAHA DISREGARD THAT, I SUCK COCKS

  3. @ Phoenix: I knew it! What are you doing later? 😉

    @ Thomas: Complete agreement here. Private websites and businesses have a right to prohibit certain acts while on the premises. Plus, why would anyone want to share a picture of themselves breastfeeding?

  4. Speaking of the First Amendment, I just read this, which I believe clearly is a violation of the right to free speech.

  5. @ Mike: Some women (and men) see breastfeeding as a beautiful depiction of the bond between a mother and her child and thus want to share it with family and friends whether near or far.

    Personally I don’t think I would post pictures of me breastfeeding my child online, but I’m not opposed to having a picture like that taken of me, nor am I opposed to other women wishing to express their maternal love in that manner on the web or in public.

  6. Oh and Facebook was totally well within their rights.

  7. Tom D

    He He He, Breasts, He He He…

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