Facebook Mastectomy Photo Controversy Ends In Compromise

Facebook mastectomy photos

Facebook mastectomy photos are now (mostly) allowed again after a successful women’s petition caused the social networking giant to re-think the wording of its anti-nudity policy.

Facebook has been taking a lot of heat lately for taking down post-mastectomy photos, citing decency violations. Women’s groups criticized Facebook, and a Change.org petition was started to get the social network to revise its policy.

On Tuesday, Facebook reiterated their stance, but conceded to revising the language of their anti-nudity policy to allow for post-mastectomy photos, so long as a few context rules are observed.

Facebook mastectomy

It’s basically a compromise on Facebook’s part: They’ll allow breast photos in the context of illustrating breast cancer, but a shot of a healthy breast with the nipple exposed won’t be allowed (presumably even if it’s next to post-mastectomy breast tissue).

If you’re in the grey areas of violation (i.e. – a blurred nipple), Facebook will contact you directly to discuss the photo instead of just arbitrarily taking it down.

“The policy that’s up there now is much better because it tells you that these images are supported within the context of breast cancer,” says Susan Barrington, a stage 4 breast cancer sufferer and creator of the Change.org petition. “Breast cancer is brutal, it’s life-changing.”

Do you think that Facebook’s mastectomy photo revision is satisfactorily respectful to breast cancer survivors, or should they allow women even more freedom of expression when it comes to their bodies?

Dusten Carlson
Dusten has written for web and print and currently spends his time working on his upcoming graphic novel. He is also almost 30 and still has all of his hair.


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  1. This isn't something I've ever thought about before, but I think FB's position is fair. I just saw a blog about a FB user getting pictures removed and being blocked because of photos such as a toddler pretending to breastfeed a doll, though, and that seemed pretty absurd. I've seen trashy pictures on FB of teens in barely there clothing and FB is concerned about a baby's nipple?

  2. I do think that this could be something that would be difficult for parents to explain to their children, but like Rachel said, I have seen much worse that is allowed from kids their age that are more devastating to their self-esteem in my opinion.

  3. Children under the age of 13 are not suppose to be on FB anyway and I think that a 13 year old would understand if a parent discussed something like this. I don't see the problem with this photo what so ever. I have seen worse or subjects that would be harder to explain (like what Rachel said about the toddler pretending to breastfeed). I understand that some parents my not feel that even that picture is a problem, but not all mothers breastfeed (either can't and just plainly don't) so trying to explain that to a child is a lot more difficult if seen by looking over your shoulder.

  4. The things our young children see on tv, at all hours, even the cartoon network, are MUCH worse than a photo of someones SCARS from breast cancer on facebook! My Aunt had breast cancer (long story short, no scars and is now in remission). I have come across PORN sites on FB that expose FULL nudity. I think that it is at a parents discretion of what a child sees or is allowed to see. I am brutally honest with my four boys about life in general, so that way they aren't SHOCKED when they might see a woman breastfeeding in public..(all mine were breastfed up until their 1st birthday)..or someone with a bald head that might be battling cancer, we had a family friend go through it, so they witnessed it first hand…or someone with one leg…etc, etc. My children had facebook at age 12..facebook OK's it, they just put restrictions on the account, which is fine by me…I have my kids' usernames and passwords and check on them all the time. If I see something questionable, I talk to them about it….There are a LOT worse photos that I have seen with all the girls in there barely there bikinis than breast cancer survivors and their battle wounds!

  5. FB can be very arbitrary about nudity. I've sent two reports for what I considered soft porn (nakedness with no other purpose) and both times they said it was fine. Actually, I find pictures of maimed and abused animals far more upsetting than nekkidness but for some reason that stuff is never questioned. It's really up to users to turn off what they find offensive.

  6. After all the stuff that's allowed to be posted on FB, I don't even know why this might be an issue!