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Facebook Draws Criticism For Policy On Breastfeeding Photos

Protesters contend that images of nursing mothers aren't obscene and should be allowed on the site.
Breastfeeding moms and their supporters have joined to protest a Facebook policy that bans pictures of nursing mothers.

The images of the mothers feeding their infants fall under a policy banning obscenity. The social networking site recently deleted or cropped photos of nursing mothers, and the action drew opposition from thousands of Facebook users who have signed online petitions and hosted "nurse-ins." Facebook critics say that the breastfeeding photos are not obscene or of a sexual nature.

Protesters gathered outside the company's headquarters in California and the number of Facebook users in the group discussing the issue had grown to more than 113,000 as of Friday.

The top post said the social networking site "has started pulling a MySpace" by prohibiting people from posting images of breastfeeding mothers and warning those who posted the images that they could be kicked off the site.

"We're wondering: what about a baby breastfeeding is obscene?" the global petition asked. "Especially in comparison to MANY other pictures posted all over Facebook that really are obscene."

The post appeared in four languages and it was followed by a statement from Mothers International Lactation Campaign (M.I.L.C.), which boasts more than 100,000 members. The group said that more than 11,000 people participated in its first event, held Dec. 27. It posted breastfeeding images on the group profile page and listed its status as "Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!"

Facebook released a statement explaining that it did not delete all breastfeeding pictures, only ones that showed a fully exposed breast "as defined by showing the nipple or areola." A spokesperson said that some users had complained about the breastfeeding photos and only ones that violate the social networking site's policy were removed.

Finally, the company said that its policies help keep Facebook a safe and secure place for all users, including children, and that safety helps promote users' trust in the site.