Friday, June 14, 2013

Facebook OKs (some) mastectomy photos

Facebook, which has strict content policies that have, in the past, ensnared those posting breast-feeding photos, among other images, recently faced a 22,000-strong online petition asking the social networking giant to stop censoring photos of people who have undergone mastectomies. On Thursday, victory was declared, as for the first time Facebook posted its policy on such imagery.
Yes. We agree that undergoing a mastectomy is a life-changing experience and that sharing photos can help raise awareness about breast cancer and support the men and women facing a diagnosis, undergoing treatment, or living with the scars of cancer. The vast majority of these kinds of photos are compliant with our policies.

However, photos with fully exposed breasts, particularly if they’re unaffected by surgery, do violate Facebook’s Terms (of Service). These policies are based on the same standards which apply to television and print media, and that govern sites with a significant number of young people.
Facebook added, in a statement, that it has “long allowed mastectomy photos to be shared on Facebook, as well as educational and scientific photos of the human body and photos of women breastfeeding,” but that -- given the millions of pieces of content that have to be reviewed -- sometimes these types of images are mistakenly removed.

The petition had been started by Scorchy Barrington, a New York woman who has Stage IV breast cancer. In her victory note at, she wrote:
After thousands of people signed my petition, Facebook’s policy team told me they are committed to clearing up any internal or external confusion regarding images of mastectomy and have clarified their policy. From now on, these powerful visual testaments to the real impact of breast cancer and the resilience of breast cancer survivors will be welcomed on Facebook, as they should be.

For me, a woman with Stage IV breast cancer, this is a victory I share with the 20,000 people who have signed my petition and the countless men and women who have this disease and who are newly diagnosed each year. We want the world to know that breast cancer is not a pink ribbon – it is traumatic, it is life-changing, and it urgently needs a cure.
The real impetus behind the petition was a celebrity, Angelina Jolie. After she revealed that she had undergone a proactive double mastectomy because of a genetic defect that meant she had a high probability of getting breast cancer, photographer David Jay, founder of the breast cancer advocacy group The SCAR Project, re-posted to Facebook some of his previously banned mastectomy photos.

After Facebook again removed the images, he wrote a Facebook post on May 19 stating that he had been temporarily banned from posting images to The SCAR Project's. Barrington, a fan of the Project’s page, saw the post and created the petition.

Jay said:
Everyone seems to be terrified of the female nipple. (He warned that) The language still allows the same images that were removed before to be removed again.
A slideshow of some of The SCAR Project's Facebook photos is available here.

No comments: