Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Facebook Responds to Petition Regarding Mastectomy Photos

This just in from

Facebook has published a written policy allowing mastectomy photos after holding a meeting with breast cancer advocates including Scorchy Barrington, a NY-based woman struggling with Stage IV breast cancer who started a petition with 20,000 signatures, and photographer David Jay, founder of the SCAR Project.
Barrington’s petition called on Facebook to publish a policy allowing mastectomy photos like it previously did for photos of breastfeeding mothers. Within a few days, the petition gained thousands of signatures, prompting
Facebook’s VP of global public policy to proactively organize a conference call with Barrington and Jay.

Facebook just notified Barrington that it has published the following policy on post-mastectomy photos:

Does Facebook allow post-mastectomy photos?

Yes. We agree that undergoing a mastectomy is a life-changing experience, and that it's important to share photos to raise awareness of breast cancer and support the men and women who are facing 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. 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. The policy can be found here:

Barrington learned about the policy directly from Facebook representatives and provided this response: “For some time now, Facebook’s policy regarding mastectomy photos was loosely defined, and offered no real assistance to Facebook users posting images and little guidance to Facebook staff tasked with responding to images that were reported. As a result, numerous photos were removed from The SCAR Project page,
and David Jay, an internationally known photographer and founder of the project, was banned from posting for 30 days. Anne Marie Giannino-Otis at Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer was also asked to remove post-mastectomy photographs from her Facebook page.

"But 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.”

David Jay of the SCAR Project also responded to the new policy: "I am very pleased that the Facebook team has reconsidered their current policy regarding images depicting the scars of breast cancer. We will be closely
monitoring the implementation of these policies. For those that gain an immeasurable amount of support and hope through the images of The SCAR Project, this is an immense victory."

Facebook released the following statement to press: “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.”

This is only the latest in a string of Facebook-related content victories sparked by petitions. In February, Facebook removed a series of pages that joked about rape and pedophilia following a Brazilian petition on In Australia, a petition led Facebook to remove a derogatory “Aboriginal Memes” page. And last year, Facebook removed several anti-gay pages following a petition.
There are currently more than 750 open petitions directed at Facebook.

Live signature totals from Scorchy Barrington’s petition:

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