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Breast cancer awareness photographs deemed ‘pornographic’ by Facebook

Breast cancer awareness has become a brand of its own through the use of ribbons, bracelets and basically anything pink.

The ability to market awareness and make it fashionable to be proactive and prevent breast cancer is phenomenal, however actual images of breasts have caused a stir in the social media world.

Facebook has recently come under fire after removing portraits of breast cancer survivors from the site because they were considered pornographic, according to The Huffington Post, a removal that is not new for the social media giant.

BBC News Online reported earlier this year that a woman was banned from Facebook after posting photos of herself after a double mastectomy.

In that case Facebook took action because, “(the photo) broke its rules on nudity.” However is the social media site being too cautious in deleting these photos?

The fine line between protecting users of Facebook and censorship is not difficult to cross. The site seems to jump on these cases of breast cancer survivors showing a breast, but foul language and violence don’t appear in the news nearly as often.

Facebook’s decision to remove post-mastectomy photos in the past was acknowledged as a “mistake,” according to The Daily Mail Online when in 2009 a woman posted photos of her scarred breast in hopes of spreading the word about cancer prevention.

This time, a spokesperson from Facebook came forward to admit that with millions of people on the site, it is possible mistakes can be made.

But were these really mistakes?

Obviously someone had to report these women’s photographs to Facebook by flagging them, deeming them inappropriate for users. Then an employee of the site would view the picture and make a decision to remove it or not.

Censorship of breast cancer awareness is a marker for the society we live in. It is typical for people to bully and use derogatory language online, but an image of an unclothed body part causes uproar.

I can’t even imagine what would happen if a man posted a photo encouraging early screening for testicular cancer.

Bringing attention to blatant censoring, even in social media, is difficult because of the idea that social media is so personal and unique to each individual. You can rant and rave about whatever you’d like but photographs speak volumes.

Unfortunately, there are people who do, in fact, post images online that are pornographic, but the painted bodies of breast cancer victims are intended for art and awareness.

The human body is so taboo in our culture that simple images of a breast can be considered vulgar.

Facebook and other social media sites should focus more on language people are using online to hurt each other, not images that are meant to inform and inspire.


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