It's been a long time coming, but Facebook has finally caved under pressure and revised its community guidelines on nudity. In short, that means those breastfeeding photos, a.k.a."brelfies," are now permitted on the social media site.
On countless occasions, Facebook has pulled down images and blocked user access following photos of breastfeeding moms. Were the pics vulgar or somehow pornographic? Uh, no. Were they shameful or somehow degrading to anyone? Uh, no.
Under the new rules, Facebook will continue to ban images "displaying genitals or focusing in on fully exposed buttocks ... We also restrict some images of female breasts if they include the nipple, but we always allow photos of women actively engaged in breastfeeding or showing breasts with post-mastectomy scarring." Also permitted under the new guidelines are art pieces depicting nude figures.
Facebook plans to take a harder line on cyberbullying and hate crimes that target users based on "race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases." Any content deemed to have "malicious intent" will be disclosed to authorities.
"We allow you to speak freely on matters and people of public interest," reads the standards spiel, "but remove content that appears to purposefully target private individuals with the intention of degrading or shaming them."
The changes are a step in the right direction, and one can only hope that Facebook officials apply the new standards in a more consistent and scrupulous fashion.
For sure, the internet is a hard place to police. But if Facebook is going to be a tool for good, a digital space that connects instead of alienates people, then it needs to work harder behind the scenes to identify content that is truly pornographic and offensive. In other words: not a flash of nipple on a nursing mom...