Facebook to Ban Breastfeeding Advocacy Group for "Obscenity"

Cassie nurses her son, Nathan, on Florida's Panama City Beach, June 2008


For immediate release


Lactivist group faces termination from Facebook after "embarrassing" the social networking site in a high profile media awareness campaign last year.

The group of nearly 250,000 members faces threats of removal after a media blitz that chastised the social networking site for its draconian policies toward breastfeeding mothers. The campaign, which garnered national and international attention in over 25 languages from various media outlets around the world, was featured on CNN, CBS 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 group’s admin, Facebook responded by changing the accusation to say the group was posting nudity or sexually explicit material and sending harassing messages to members.

Ms. Joseph says she believes the harassment 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."

"We have no idea what they are talking about and they refuse to explain the charges," said Gillian Joseph, an administrator of the group, living in Edinburgh, Scotland. "We checked our pages but cannot see any copyright infringements, and we've certainly sent no harassing messages. Now they are saying it's because we're uploading obscene photos."

The support and advocacy group, which boasts close to 250,000 members from all over the world, 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 many 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 administrator 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."

Note To Editors:

Initial emails from Facebook were sent on 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 been featured in The Washington Post and Fox News in the United States, in The Guardian and The Times in the U.K., and in The Globe and Mail and The Ottawa Citizen in Canada.

The group has administrators in Canada, the U.S., UK and Australia who can be contacted on request, but main contacts for media purposes are:

Gill Joseph
email: kamagrian@blueyonder.co.uk
phone: +44 7800 987 844 +44 7800 987 844

Stephanie Muir
email: babieslovemilk@yahoo.ca
phone: +1 613 761 9109 +1 613 761 9109

Please note that email may be a better first contact choice, as both women are professionals and mothers of young children themselves.

Emma and her husband, Seb, at the Montréal Breastfeeding Challenge in October 2008, with their daughters. Their photo appeared in the Journal de Montréal, a major newspaper in a city of 3.5 million. Emma wonders, "If Montrealers can handle it, then why can't Facebook?"


  1. I find that infuriating! There are breasts all around us in society! In every media possible! At least when babies are feeding, you don't see any nipple! That's less obscene than what some 'newspapers' show!

  2. I can't get into my FB groups right now, but if you look under my profile I posted a link to the news story /interview I did with a Canadian national network in Sept 2007 when Facebook deleted my breastfeeding photo from my account. This was right after the deleted Karen Speeds photos and deleted her FB account, which was the start of all of this mess!

  3. Here's the link to the news story: http://www.facebook.com/help/#!/video/video.php?v=11061425121&ref=mf

  4. If the woman in the above photo had her hands, or some man's hands, or some other objects in place of her children's heads, it would be considered fine. But show children *gasp* nursing, and all of a sudden, it's obscene?? What I find obscene is all the ads (on TV, the internet, in paper) and TV shows that reveal much more of a woman's body and in a more sexually suggestive way, and all without objection! Ugh!


  5. I don't get what is so sexual about BF?!?! My boobs have never felt less so in my life. It is natural and the way babies are supposed to be fed. We should be outraged over people too lazy to give their babies breastmilk when they could have. I am tired of telling people that YES I am still breastfeeding when my baby is only 7 months old. When I wean her is not their business and I am tired of feeling like I have to hide to feed my baby.

    By the way I threw out a copy of babywise last night. A friend passed it on saying she never used it and I read it and couldn't figure out what you were supposed to do to achieve the schedule and felt like ezzo was talking down to readers and talking crap about HBOTB which ACTUALLY worked and give concrete things to do. Then the LCs told me that it was linked to failure to thrive. It is a crime that thing is still sold.

  6. Utterly ridiculous. Am posting to Facebook. Heavy, heavy sigh.

  7. LOL!

    As a woman that dresses very modestly, I am not offended at the sight of another woman breastfeeding publically.

    I AM offended at some of the sexually seductive ads I have seen on Facebook.

    It seems to me that women are sex objects and this is acceptable, but any exposure of her as a mother is not.

  8. Unfortunately, people who live in the U.S. are the most prude. It is much more acceptable in Europe and even Canada. It saddens me that people can't appreciate the beauty of breastfeeding for what it is: a mother feeding her child. I breastfed my son for 2 years, 1 month, and 1 week, so I won't even get into people's thoughts on nursing past a year, but that's another issue that seems to get people's feathers ruffled.

    I love how people can see a bottle nipple, which is meant to represent a human nipple, and think nothing of it.

  9. P.S., when I was down in Florida in January of 2009, I nursed my son on the beach just like that woman in the photo. No shame about me! If the baby (hehe, in this case, toddler) has to eat, he has to eat.

  10. I belong to that Facebook group, and I am saddened to hear about these actions. I really hoped that Facebook would take our message to heart - we are just feeding our babies in the way nature intended. If they can allow photos of drunken debauchery, which they clearly do, why on earth would they take offense at breastfeeding?

  11. @Sarah R - I'd love if you could change your comment to 'some people' regarding the US. Not everyone here is stupid.


  12. Because women are so often sexualized, it is this very reason I think men are, less offended, but more turned off by a woman breastfeeding her children. It is in breastfeeding that our role as female is magnified. Simply put, men prefer to see us as sex toys. Breastfeeding our babies, once again, humanizes us and men prefer to not see us as human.



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