My name is Emma Kwasnica. I am a 30-year-old Canadian tandem-nursing mother living in Montréal, whose Facebook account has now been entirely disabled over the breastfeeding photos controversy.
The official petition group on Facebook is called Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is NOT obscene! . I am reaching out because I think you might be interested in the Facebook fiasco over breastfeeding images, and them being classed as "obscene, sexually explicit and pornographic". Yes, I said breastfeeding. The most loving, selfless act on Earth.For the record, my entire Facebook account has now been deleted, with no explanation from the administrators of Facebook. While they have not confirmed the reason for disabling my account, I can only suspect it stems from the fact that, in the days leading up to the disabling of my account, I had photos of me breastfeeding my daughters deleted, and was given a "warning" for having had uploaded "obscene" content that renders Facebook "unsafe for children" (please see attached screen shots).
Given the amount of obscene, pornographic, and truly disturbing photos, applications and groups that proliferate across Facebook, I am stunned that this has happened to me. I am an aspiring midwife/Childbirth Educator/ Breastfeeding Counselor; I run a lively discussion group on Facebook called Informed Choice : Birth and Beyond, and have been sharing all of my summarised research, studies, links regarding pregnancy, birth and motherhood with a group of nearly three hundred people, since July 2008. And now, everything that I ever wrote, all my photos, all of my midwifery-related research, has been deleted --right off the face of Facebook. Furthermore, this does not concern me alone, as many (over a hundred ?) other Facebook users had their posts deleted, too, since whole discussion threads were deleted into oblivion, if it was indeed me who began the thread (which, 80% of the time, I had started the threads, since this was my group/me sharing the most recent research relevant to the childbearing/-rearing woman).
Facebook has not responded to my e-mails politely enquiring why my account has been disabled. They remain faceless. Hence the reason why I am now reaching out and going public with my situation. I am desperate to get my words back, and most importantly, the general North American public needs to be made aware of Facebook's disgusting double-standards regarding "decency". I am revolted to report that Facebook allows the likes of a group called "Dead Babies Make Me Laugh", and yet, someone such as myself, who wants nothing but to inspire and help women on their journey to birthing healthy, vibrant babies, has her whole account deleted.I have now done radio station interviews (a Sakatoon one, as well as Montréal's 98.5 FM), and was interviewed for 'La Presse' newspaper here in Montréal, the article for which appeared in yesterday's edition of 'La Presse' (the English translation for which you will find below). I may be doing another one-hour long segment on the same Saskatoon radio station at some point this week.
There is a Canadian slant to this whole Facebook fiasco, in that the tireless organisor of the original online protest is from Ottawa (Stephanie Muir), the site that is currently the "safe haven" for breastfeeding photos which have been deleted by Facebook is a Canadian one (TERA), is coordinated by Paul Rapoport of Hamilton, Ontario, and now, the only (known) person so far to have had their Facebook acount fully disabled over this issue --me, a Montreal mother.
Please help me by spreading the word of Facebook's appalling actions (such as by posting this to your blog), and consider this an official plea to get the word out ! For the sake of the next generation of babies, people everywhere need to understand that the larger issue of normalising breastfeeding is deeply important here. In 2009, it is unacceptable that women feel shamed, or are sexualised, while providing the most normal, the most physiologically appropriate food for their babies : breastmilk.
-Emma Kwasnica, Montréal
You will aslo find attached the scanned, full-page image from Le Journal de Montréal, in which I am breastfeeding my daughters. This is particularly relevant as Facebook has said that no major newspaper in North America would publish the type of breastfeeding photos that they have deleted. This simply isn't true - this newspaper image (from October 2008) is living proof ! If Montreal, a city of over 3.5 million, can handle seeing this image in a daily newspaper, they why can't Facebook ?
*********************************************MOTHERS CRUSADING AGAINST FACEBOOK
January 04, 2009
"Cover up this breast that I do not want to see." Even though it was written in the 17th century, Molière's famous refrain is still à la mode for those who run Facebook's networking site.
For several months now, photographs of mothers breastfeeding their children have been being deleted. The restriction has provoked anger in women all over the globe. In protest, 11,000 women replaced their profile picture with the image of a breastfeeding mother.
This online protest was organized for December 27th by Stephanie Muir, an Ottawa mother outraged by the website policy, that says that no "pornographic or sexually explicit" material may be uploaded to the site.
"It is unthinkable that in 2008, such a loving image, one of a mother breastfeeding her baby, can be perceived as sexual or offensive," she said. "It's because we stigmatise women in this way, that mothers make the choice not to breastfeed, or breastfeed for a shorter length of time."
In additon to the web protest, a few dozen women assembled in front of the Facebook headquarters in California, and nursed their babies there.
The response by Facebook administrators was immediate.
According to Stephanie Muir, accounts of several protestors were disabled.
This is the case of Montrealer Emma Kwasnica, who no longer has access to her personal account, since January 1st.
"Facebook began deleting photos of me breastfeeding my daughters on December 28th", stated the 30-year-old who is studying to become a midwife. "A few days later, the administrators disabled my account with the only explanation being that I had uploaded obscene content. Breastfeeding is the most beautiful thing in the world. How does one automatically associate that with sex ?"
The protest organised by Stephanie Muir has provoked a media frenzy in the United States. Facebook reacted by publishing a press release that specified that only photos showing nipple or areola are banned.
Facebook reiterated that it is a private company which has the right to decide which content it hosts on its site.