Early Show Fails on Facebook Fiasco

On December 31st, CBS Early Show host Maggie Rodriguez covered the battle between Facebook and its users regarding the posting of revealing breastfeeding photos. But Rodriguez failed to mention the personal responsibility of the users uploading inappropriate content.

Facebook, a popular social networking site with roughly 140 million users, recently pulled two photos off the website that were deemed inappropriate by the site's terms of use. Heather Farley's breastfeeding photos were removed because her entire breast was exposed, a violation of Facebook policy.

The Early Show reported on Farley's frustration with Facebook, including that she joined a group of over 90,000 members titled, “Hey Facebook, Breastfeeding is not obscene.” Farley also led a protest of other proud breastfeeding mothers outside Facebook's headquarters in Palo Alto, California. While the Early Show report did include a response from Facebook, they did not discuss the personal responsibility of Farley's blatant violation of the terms of use that she agreed to when she obtained a Facebook account.

To round out the discussion, Rodriguez hosted a “debate” between Andy Silverman, author of the book “Mama's Know Breast,” and Jeff Jarvis, New York University Professor of Journalism. Silverman came to the defense of the mothers in the Facebook group saying, “I think they're just astounded that Facebook would even take this position in the first place because breast-feeding isn't something sexual,” she said. “It's natural. And it's what our bodies were intended to do,” said Silverman.

But personal responsibility was never accounted for in the debate. Neither Rodriguez nor the guests noted that whether or not breastfeeding is “natural” is not the point. The photos violated the terms of use agreed to by the user, and no one blamed Farley for her failure to comply with the rules.

Facebook has a set of standards it must maintain, despite how “natural” the cause may be. “We take no action on the vast majority of breast-feeding photos because they follow the site's terms of use,” said the site in response to the protest outside the site's headquarters. These policies are designed to ensure Facebook remains a safe, secure and trusted environment for all users, including the many children who use the site.”

Erin Brown is an intern at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.