Facebook is coming under fire for its decision to remove photos of women who show their chest following a life saving mastectomy.
Cancer survivor Scorchy Barrington was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer and quickly turned to a survivors group on Facebook.
According to Venture Beat the New York resident became inspired by the SCAR Project’s series of large-scale portraits that showed young breast cancer survivors photographed by David Jay.
Shortly after viewing the photos Facebook removed David Jay’s work. Barrington then discovered that Facebook was also removing the post-mastectomy photos posted by other women.
Facebook apparently disagreed with the practice so much that David Jay at one point was banned from Facebook for 30 days. The photographers ban was revealed in a Change.org petition that hopes to reinstate the photos and allow new pictures to emerge.
In a petition addressed to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg Barrington writes:
“Photos like those included in The SCAR Project help me feel a little less alone in what I’m going through. With so many young women facing breast cancer diagnoses, I know these photos give them hope, too. By removing the photos, Facebook is sending us a message that our struggle with this disease should be kept in the dark.”
Removing the post-mastectomy photos does seem odd since Facebook’s own community standards and help center FAQ sections specifically allow for breast feeding and mastectomy photos to be posted on the social networks pages.
Here’s Facebook’s policy regarding mastectomy photo which was recently provided to VentureBeat:
We have 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. We only review or remove photos after they have been reported to us by people who see the images in their News Feeds or otherwise discover them. On occasion, we may remove a photo showing mastectomy scarring either by mistake, as our teams review millions of pieces of content daily, or because a photo has violated our terms for other reasons. As a reminder, our terms stipulate that we generally do not allow nudity, with some exceptions as laid out above and here, consistent with other platforms that have many young users.
It should be noted that on occasion Facebook appears to forget its own policies and only moves forward with reinstating files after public outcries are heard.
Facebook currently reviews millions of pieces of content daily and must act quickly to remove content that may violate its policies. However, in this case various post-mastectomy photos were removed which appears to be a targeted choice by someone at the social network.
In the meantime the petition to reinstate Facebook posted mastectomy photos has received 8,000 signatures.
“Facebook’s representatives said they’re fully supportive of the SCAR Project and that they do allow mastectomy photos – but there’s clearly both internal and external confusion that’s leading Facebook employees to remove these photos when they should not.
Do you think Facebook should act swiftly to restore the post-mastectomy photos?
I think Facebook should put the post-mastectomy photos back up as well as breastfeeding photos that get taken down. Both post-mastectomy and breastfeeding photos show female empowerment, femininity and beauty. We should support these women and empower them to share their stories and pictures. These pictures can give other women going through cancer a sense of hope and community and let them know they're not alone in the battle and can count on the support of many other women battling the same thing. We should not be afraid of these types of pictures, the female body is beautiful and so are the scars the female body has to endure at times.
Her survival should be celebrated not avoided and hidden.
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