British Columbia

B.C. mom says she was blocked from Facebook over breastfeeding photo

A mom in Delta, B.C., says she was temporarily barred from using Facebook after she posted a picture of herself breastfeeding her daughter on a community page about breastfeeding.

Site administrators temporarily removed image and blocked account, Delta, B.C., woman says

Breastfeeding block on Facebook

8 years ago
A mom cries foul after Facebook locks her out of her account 2:14

A mom in Delta, B.C., says she was temporarily barred from using Facebook after she posted a picture of herself breastfeeding her daughter on a community page about breastfeeding.

Tina Spenst says the image was taken during the 2013 Vancouver Dyke March — a lesbian-centred event that takes place during Pride weekend in the summer — and shows Spenst holding and breastfeeding her daughter, Jadeyn, at the side of the street.

Spenst says she was locked out of the Facebook website for 24 hours after the image was flagged and removed from the public page, and then a 12-hour countdown began until she could post again.

The only communication Spenst said she received from Facebook after the photo was removed was an automated message that copied the photo and said "We removed this from Facebook because it violated our community standards."

Tina Spenst says she posted a photo of herself breastfeeding her 18-month-old daughter to a breastfeeding advocacy group's page on Facebook. Not long after, Spenst alleges, the photo was removed and the B.C. woman's account was disabled. (Tina Spenst/Facebook)

Under its posted explanations of what type of content will be blocked or removed from the site, the company calls breastfeeding "natural and beautiful" and says breastfeeding images are allowed to appear Facebook provided the breast isn't fully exposed and the child is actively feeding.

Spenst's photo appears to comply with those rules.

When CBC News contacted Facebook for comment, the company said it would verify whether the photo had been removed in error and said that any photo that is removed by the site's administrators "wouldn't have made it to our attention unless it had been reported to us by another user."

Spenst said she has her suspicions as to why her photo might have been flagged by another user.

"One is that somebody might not like it that I'm gay," she said. "Another is that someone might not like it that my daughter is a little bit older because I'm breastfeeding an 18-month-old."

Similar photos removed in past

Spenst says has received "looks" before from people when she's breastfeeding in public, but she wasn't expecting this particular photo to cause a stir.

"It bothers me a lot as a breastfeeding mom," she told CBC News. "I've got people looking at me funny in public before, but no one actually comes over and says anything whereas Facebook is very anonymous."

Other moms have reported that their photos showing breastfeeding have been yanked from the social media site. Facebook's apparent attitude toward breastfeeding has sparked petitions, and even nurse-ins.

Spenst, who is now able to log onto the site again, says she sees Facebook as a public space in which breastfeeding should be seen as part of normal childrearing. She said the blocked photo was later allowed back on the site, and she is continuing to post more breastfeeding images.

With files from the CBC's Lisa Johnson