A Seattle mother was temporarily banned from Facebook after she posted a photo of her 5-year-old daughter pretending to breastfeed her 2-year-old sister. Lauren Ferrari is outraged at the decision to ban her, saying the photo was "completely innocent."
But Facebook insists that the photo violates the company's standards. But Ferrari said: "It's not sexual and they were just pretending. What's obscene about breastfeeding?"
According to Ferrari, she did not think the photo would cause any trouble when she uploaded it for friends to see. She said: "When I posted it I said, 'She says she's nursing her baby.' She didn't say, 'Mommy look, she's kissing my boobie.'"
KomoNews.com reports Facebook removed the photo within 24 hours with a message to Ferrari, saying the photo violated the site's policies. But Ferrari protested: "They did not say it was child pornography. They were not clear, they were really vague."
The Facebook message also said Ferrari was banned from the social website for seven days.
KomoNews.com reports that Stefanie Thomas of the Seattle Police Department's Internet Crimes Against Children, said the photo is not child porn but that it reflects "poor parenting." Thomas said this is because by posting the photo on Facebook, Ferrari has lost control over who sees the photo and uses it. NineMsn reports Thomas said people should think carefully about what they post online because once an image goes online it is beyond their control. She said: "There's no real way of actually getting that image off the internet. So that's something that this family, and these girls, are going to have to ultimately deal with."
The Huffington Post reports that was not the first time Facebook has deleted photos of young girls pretending to breastfeed. Facebook removed the page "Express Yourself Mums" because of a photo of girls "nursing" their dolls. But later, Facebook apologized, saying it was an error and returned the page.
The Huffington Post also comments that the incident raises the issue of how American society sexualizes the act of breastfeeding. The website recalls the reaction of Americans to a European-produced doll called "Breast Milk Baby" introduced to the US last year. Many Americans expressed outrage, claiming that the dolls sexualized children. But others disagreed, saying breastfeeding is not a sexual act.
In many other cultures, breastfeeding is seen simply as a way of feeding babies the natural way and the act of breastfeeding a baby in public is totally divested of sexuality. The Huffington Post blogger Tessa Blake, said: "My daughter has been lifting up her shirt and 'nursing' her babies for years. Are you suggesting this is shameful? What if she feeds her doll with a bottle? Is she not being a kid then, or is it just the breast that's the problem?"
According to The Huffington Post, another blogger Lisa Belkin, wrote in her blog that breastfeeding "is not Porn, People, It's Food."
An official from Facebook said the company does not comment on its policies, but Ferrari said: "I just wish someone would have actually talked to me and asked a question or something. I just felt it was very harsh."