Like many parents, you probably have a few pics of your toddler running naked to the bath or darting through the sprinklers in nothing but his birthday suit. And like many parents, you may share the adorable images with family and close friends, or even post them to your Facebook or Instagram. While “nudity” may be frowned upon by many social networking sites, it’s unlikely that any of your peeps would rat you out to the policy enforcers for posting an “indecent” image.
Well, that’s exactly what happened to Jill White, a North Carolina mom and photographer, who was banned from Facebook for 24 hours after posting a shot of her own daughter’s naked bum to the site. In the photo, the 2-year-old’s bathing suit bottoms are being pulled down by her toddler friend, an image reminiscent of the iconic Coppertone ad from the 1950s. As a photographer, she wanted to share the classic pic with her Facebook followers.
The problem was, White’s profile is public, and one of her followers reported the image to Facebook, claiming it violated their policies on sharing images that contain “nudity or pornography.” The social networking site asked White to change her settings so that the image could be seen only by “Friends,” or to remove the picture. She refused to do either, so Facebook shut down her page. Ultimately, White went back into her account and covered her daughter’s naked bum with a smiley face emoji, making the picture now, well, fit for the public.
Was it wrong of Facebook to censor a perfectly innocent snapshot? I don’t think so. If your profile is set to public, so the whole social networking world can see it, then you have to play by the rules, even if you don’t agree with them. As a photographer, White is using Facebook to share her work with the masses, but clearly, one of her followers took issue with it. And it’s Facebook’s responsibility to protect their users and ensure that any content that may be deemed inappropriate, is removed from public forums.
Most people would say that White’s image is adorable, innocent, totally fine. But Facebook has to respect the one or two people who say it’s not. While a toddler’s naked bottom might not be considered scandalous, where do you draw the line? Is it okay as long as the child is under 5? If they’re under 10? Can you show a toddler’s genitals in pics? Can you show two naked 2-year-olds sweetly kissing on the lips? The social networking site can’t get involved in defining what is inappropriate or not, or how a person might perceive an image. That’s why they have a blanket policy in place: No nudity or pornography on public profiles.
That’s just public profiles though–someone like White is free to share the photo, as is, with her own friends and family on Facebook. She just can’t send it into the public space where it might offend someone, as it clearly did. Let’s not forget that Facebook only took issue with the image because a user reported it.
Personally, I think it’s nuts for anyone to think there’s something indecent about an adorable picture of toddlers at play. In fact, when totally innocent images like a small child’s bum or a mother breastfeeding are banned, I find it upsetting. When the censors label these images as offensive, they are essentially “sexualizing” them. To be honest, I think it’s gross and a sad statement on how we view childhood and motherhood. Still, I respect what Facebook has to do, what the public asks them to do, in order to keep their site safe for viewing by all. I’m glad it’s not my job.
What do you think?