The group of almost 250,000 members faces threats of removal, after a media blitz that chastised the social networking site. The campaign garnered international attention from media outlets in over 25 languages around the world, featuring on Fox News and the Dr. Phil show among others. Members believe the current threat is directly related to the embarrassment caused to Facebook’s bosses.
Administrators of the group "Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene! (Official petition to Facebook)" were told by the social networking site that the group was in violation of copyright infringement policies. When pressed for details by the women, Facebook responded by changing the accusation to one that the group was posting nudity or sexually explicit material and sending harassing messages to members.
"We have no idea what they're talking about and they won't explain the charges," said Gillian Joseph, an admin of the group living in Edinburgh, Scotland. "We checked our pages but can't see any copyright infringements, and we've certainly sent no harrassing messages. Now they're saying it's because we're uploading obscene photos.".
Ms. Joseph says she believes the harrassment is due to the social networking site being embarrassed that such a large number of people are against their policies of branding breastfeeding photos as "sexually explicit content".
The support and advocacy group boasts over 247,000 members from all over the world, and wishes to normalize the sight of breastfeeding mothers and children. It currently contains over 4,500 discussion threads on parenting topics, and over 5,700 photos, though some of these have already been removed by Facebook.
"To shut the group down would not only end valuable support, but give a message to the world that breastfeeding babies are somehow obscene. It's just absurd,” said Debra Balcaen, a Winnipeg resident and also admin of the group.
"It is unfortunate and hypocritical that Facebook's administration has targeted this breastfeeding advocacy group for alleged violations when at the same time they happily endorse sexually explicit material from third party applications and paid advertisements."
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
Initial emails from Facebook were sent 2/2/10 to the administrators of the group. All responses were handled by Gill Joseph, and the full email exchange can be provided upon request.
During previous campaigns, articles about the group have featured in The Washington Post and on CNN (US), in The Guardian and The Times (UK), and in the Globe and Mail and the Ottawa Citizen in Canada.
The group has administrators in Canada, USA, UK and Australia who can be contacted on request, but main contacts for the media are:
Gill Joseph email: firstname.lastname@example.org
phone: +44 7800 987 844
Stephanie Muir email: email@example.com
phone: +1 613 761 9109
Please note that email may be a better first contact choice, as both women are mothers of young children.