Anger as Facebook deletes breastfeeding photos

Facebook has removed breastfeeding photos from a private group page for mums, sparking anger from members.

Renee Lyons from Timaru, a member of the Mummy Matters group, posted on Friday that her breastfeeding picture was removed, her account suspended and she was reported for having a scam or fake profile.

She said she had to answer test questions to be allowed back online.

Another woman said a photo she posted of herself breastfeeding was also reported as nudity and pornography.

The private Facebook group for mothers has almost 3500 members, and says it aims to be a positive place for mums and mums-to-be to post and ask questions.

Facebook's action prompted a strong response from other members, with one saying their photos of a toddler potty training had been reported, while other members said they would deliberately post breastfeeding pictures in support.

One member said as a first-time mother she found it helpful to see photos of other mums breastfeeding.

Lisa Manning, a spokeswoman for breastfeeding support organisation La Leche League, said removing the photos was disappointing.

"It's a perfectly natural thing so why can women not share the photographs that they want to that are perfectly descent, doing something that's perfectly normal?

"I think it demonstrates that we don't live in a breastfeeding culture. It's still something that, unfortunately, people pass judgement on. All we would want is for people to accept mothers who are just trying to do the best for their children.

"I'm sure there are a lot of other things on Facebook that are a lot more unsavoury to people than breastfeeding."

A Facebook spokeswoman said it was possible the photos were taken down by mistake.

She was adamant the company allowed pictures of breastfeeding mothers.

"We absolutely allow photos of breastfeeding and we support mothers breastfeeding.

"We have automatic filters at Facebook that filter out nudity and occasionally the filters get it wrong."

The company would not be able to confirm why the photos had been removed until the information had been analysed at Facebook headquarters in the United States.

Last year a Sydney woman's account was suspended after she posted a photo of herself breastfeeding her toddler while expressing milk from the other breast.

The reaction prompted a 'Boob Out' protest outside the social media company's Sydney office.

Facebook's online information says a fully-exposed breast where the child is not actively nursing violates its terms.

It said the photos reviewed were almost exclusively brought to its attention through complaints by other Facebook members.

- Matthew Theunissen and Rebecca Quilliam of APNZ

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