The policies of Facebook proved to be tricky for a California woman who was banned by the social networking website for posting updates of her home-birth and labeling the images as pornographic. Ruth Fowler, a resident of Venice Beach, would have least expected the reaction from Facebook when she decided to share alternatives option available for delivery other than that in a hospital.
Fowler, who documented her journey of child birth with updates on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, intended to sensitize women about the process of childbirth and to bring greater awareness about the process of home-birth. The live updates from Fowler included her trip to a hospital to treat her post-delivery bleeding.
The process of suspension of account usually starts with any of updates by the account holder being reported by fellow Facebook users. Options in the drop down while reporting needs to be selected to provide reason for the reporting. These options include a wide range of statements including “this is pornography.” A couple of reports against an image are enough for Facebook to initiate an action against the account in the direction as experienced by Fowler.
Ironically, the photo which got flagged down shows her new born baby lying
on her breasts, covering it completely leaving no scope for any form of violating nudity. Facebook and some users seems to have collectively disagreed on this argument and soon the images were removed with a account suspension information given to Fowler.
Instagram and Twitter along with its users proved to be far more mature. The images managed to hold on to its own on the networking websites without a ban, although Instagram does have a few more “risqué” images of the home birth including that of her placenta and breastfeeding. Facebook and its users labeling the pictures as pornographic, thus, displayed a prudent as well as childish attitude towards the issue.
Ironically, Facebook owns Instagram but thankfully its policies didn’t get replicated onto Instagram. It is also being suggested that the policies might be similar but what differs is their enforcement techniques. It is also possible that the graphic nature of time of childbirth may not be acceptable to many whereas for others the images represented a far greater purpose of demystifying the entire process of childbirth.
Fowler has though received many supporting emails which have encouraged her postings. She wasn’t however, pleased with the suspension. She soon posted her dissatisfaction against the users who reported her, although with the usage of the choicest of unpleasant words on her twitter handle.
Facebook have now banned me for posting “pornographic material”. I don’t know what c*** keeps reporting me but they can go f*** themselves.
— Ruth Fowler (@fowlerruth) January 9, 2014
Fowler goes on to call such individuals fascists and that she hated them for their actions.
Facebook however defends itself with its policies and since it is not a government organization, does not have the obligation to respect freedom of speech of its users. Thus, it can choose to independently review and create policies to ban posts unsuitable for its private platform. As Fowler awaits her suspension period to elapse to start using the account again, one can only hope that more women are able to follow Fowler’s example and are able to change the pornographic mindset that Facebook has now attached to home-birth and childbirth.
By Daris Abraham