The Meta Oversight Committee recommended that Facebook and Instagram start releasing photos of women with their breasts exposed. The guidance is to no longer ban publications that display female nipples, because this violates “international human rights standards”.
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In a decision taken on January 17th, Meta’s reviewing body, made up of academics, politicians and journalists, suggests that the company interrupt the restriction and establish clearer rules. To reach consensus, committee members analyzed two posts from an account of a US transgender and non-binary couple.
The publications showed the couple posing topless, but with their nipples covered, and captions talking about health. The post also tries to raise money for having breast removal surgery to leave the breast without breasts. Content was flagged by platform users, reviewed and removed by moderation AI.
After the duo appealed the decision, Meta restored the posts on the understanding that it did not break the rule. According to the committee, the current policy is based on a “binary view of gender and a distinction between male and female bodies”, which makes the provision unclear regarding the exposure of nipples. Men have always been allowed to take pictures or record videos shirtless, but women are censored.
Many mothers have complained for years that the restriction prevents them from recording breastfeeding, a beautiful moment of connection between mother and child. Bare breasts collide with the policy of nudity and sexual activity, although there is no adult theme in the act of feeding a child.
For about ten years, Meta’s social platforms have been the target of protests. The activities range from the use of the hashtag #freenipple, through the positioning of celebrities and digital influencers, to the so-called “mamaços”, when several women get together to breastfeed their children simultaneously. An artist even created stickers simulating male nipples for women to place over their breasts as a form of protest.
“We are constantly evolving our policies to help make our platforms safer for everyone,” said a Meta spokesperson in an interview with The Guardian. “We know that more can be done to support the LGBTQ+ community, and that means working with LGBTQ+ experts and advocacy organizations on a range of issues and product improvements,” he explained.
Meta has 60 days to respond publicly to the committee’s recommendations. As the body is advisory, there is no obligation for the company to adopt the suggested measures.