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Facebook and Instagram open up to breast-feeding and post-mastectomy photos

Facebook has quietly reversed its controversial stances on breast-feeding and post-mastectomy photos – even ones showing nipples. The social network, which has received protests on their very own site in response to their previous take-down policy for these photos, appears to have caved to an online campaign and changed its tune a couple weeks ago. Facebook-owned Instagram has loosened its policy too.

Here’s Facebook’s new policy regarding photos of mothers breast-feeding:

Does Facebook allow photos of mothers breastfeeding?

Yes. We agree that breastfeeding is natural and beautiful and we’re glad to know that it’s important for mothers to share their experiences with others on Facebook. The vast majority of these photos are compliant with our policies.

Please note that the photos we review are almost exclusively brought to our attention by other Facebook members who complain about them being shared on Facebook. 

Here’s Facebook’s new policy regarding post-mastectomy photos:

Does Facebook allow post-mastectomy photos?

Yes. We agree that undergoing a mastectomy is a life-changing experience and that sharing photos can help raise awareness about breast cancer and support the men and women facing a diagnosis, undergoing treatment or living with the scars of cancer. The vast majority of these kinds of photos are compliant with our policies.

While the social network appears to leave the door open for its own discernment by using the words “vast majority,” this is a notable shift for the company. The move appears to be a win for the #FreeTheNipple online campaign. Paala, a stay-at-home mother who is an advocate for the #FreeTheNipple movement, has a Facebook page that offers an interesting look into her experience with the lifting of the ban on photos of breast-feeding mothers.

The official decision appears to have been made about two weeks ago, though Facebook’s policy is not to announce changes to its Community Standards.

Instagram has also loosened its stance on breast-feeding and post-mastectomy photos. While archives of the site show Instagram’s old policies noted that photos including fully exposed breasts where the child was not actively engaged in nursing or breasts that were unaffected by surgery violated its Community Guidelines, the updated policies remove those caveats and say “The vast majority of these photos are compliant with our policies.”

In spite of this change, there are still a number of things Facebook doesn’t want its users to see.

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