Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Free, as in milk

What the hell are the idiots at Facebook thinking?
If there’s anything stupider than banning a woman from breastfeeding in public, it is banning a picture of a woman breastfeeding on the grounds that it is “obscene”, which is what the morons at Facebook have done, as reported (for example) by the Toronto Star.
Attention Facebook idiots:
“Obscene” is a legal term. If your lawyers tell you that something like this is obscene, you need lawyers who didn’t go the Springfield Upstairs School of Law. It sure as hell looks like it has redeeming social value to me.
Much is being made about the hypocrisy of Facebook allowing umpteen pro-anorexia groups, when anorexia is itself demonstrably damaging to women and when such web content (according to recently-published research) is as well. I think this is a foolish argument.
Facebook’s position isn’t wrong because it does more harm than good, or because it is inconsistent. It is bad because being able to advocate controversial things is an essential element of freedom.

3 comments on "Free, as in milk"

  • Adam says:

    Great post, but, you couldn’t find a photo to use?

  • ibneko says:

    Ah, this reminds me the the drama LiveJournal faced some time ago over breastfeeding. “Awww, facebook is growing up!”

  • LonerVamp says:

    I don’t think the picture is obscene, but would you visit that link and image at work in the office? How much of the breast is too much? Is this something you see on the street regularly? Inappropriate, perhaps. Obscene, no, but there is merit in whether it should be disallowed…and merit whether it should be allowed. Perhaps it is a natural thing? Sure, but so is me peeing, and I think we know what side of fence we’d be on about pictures of me peeing… And if redeeming social value is a measure, I can think of plenty of socially useless and derogatory things that are far more important to get off the Internet (which itself is like herding cats!) than to get all upset that a picture of breast feeding isn’t allowed on. Fine, the principle is at stake…but life does move on beyond such little dramatic grievances…
    And I really dislike seeing “freedom” brought up. FaceBook doesn’t have to provide essential elements to freedom, similar to you likely not being allowed to stand up and start lecturing in the middle of a crowded restaurant. Or what about someone beginning to breast feed in a crowded restaurant? So please, don’t wave that sort of emotionally dramatic argument around unless this is an official public location or venue or deals with the government.
    (No, I don’t even have a FaceBook account…)

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