Stop Censoring Birth Images and Videos on Facebook

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Hi everyone, my name is Vicki Hobbs.

My Facebook page is Vicki Hobbs - Childbirth Educator & Pregnancy Massage Specialist. 

But at the moment you may not be able to find my page. 

On the 9th July 2019 I was banned for 24 hours from my business Facebook page, because not one but five images and videos of birth were either reported or detected by BOTS. I put in a review for each one, and each one was then blurred so you had to click on the “uncover image” link to see it.

Great I thought, no more problems and gives everyone a choice.

Twenty four hours later, the same videos and images were reported again, and now my business Facebook page has been UNPUBLISHED – gone, unseen, unimportant and censored….by who?…..could it be those little unseen “BOTS” that everyone talks about - not a real human, just a virtual micro gremlin flouncing their unseen power wherever they can or by someone physically reporting the images?

Why are we being suppressed or prohibited to share about the creation of humans? Censorship is about removing anything that is considered obscene or unacceptable, but does Facebook consider birth to be obscene and unacceptable?

In addition to that when you have a Facebook page, you have to believe that those who are following your page are there to get that education and learn more about what you do – and what I do is provide education about birth, making it normal and making it real and providing evidence-based information for what I do. There is no mistaking that my page is an educational page, not a pornography site. 

I understand that there are standards and agreements we accept with Facebook when we create a profile and a page. However, when that contradicts the actions taken by Facebook, not just from time to time but continually, we have to bring that awareness to the people and to the panel of Facebook policy makers, so they can learn and understand how important childbirth education is and that shouldn’t be restricted or censored.

The standards provided in the guidelines on nudity for Facebook are:

“13. Adult nudity and sexual activity

Policy rationale
We restrict the display of nudity or sexual activity because some people in our community may be sensitive to this type of content. Additionally, we default to removing sexual imagery to prevent the sharing of non-consensual or underage content. Restrictions on the display of sexual activity also apply to digitally created content unless it is posted for educational, humorous or satirical purposes. Our Nudity Policies have become more nuanced over time. We understand that nudity can be shared for a variety of reasons, including as a form of protest, to raise awareness about a cause or for educational or medical reasons. Where such intent is clear, we make allowances for the content. For example, while we restrict some images of female breasts that include the nipple, we allow other images, including those depicting acts of protest, women actively engaged in breastfeeding and photos of post-mastectomy scarring. We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures and other art that depicts nude figures.”

Clearly the images that I share are considered for educational purposes as I always explain what is happening, the parts of the anatomy and the relevance behind the photo or video - I don't just dump it and run so to speak.

It is incredible that we are still having these problems with Facebook censoring images. Firstly it was breastfeeding images, now images of birth or the anatomy providing visual learning to women and their partners, particularly first-time mothers on what to expect and what birth looks like, rather than the horror images depicted in movies.

So why are we still being censored and shut down?

Birth workers recognise that sometimes people don’t want to see those images, we get that, and that is why you introduced that great new option where the images are blurred, and someone has to choose to open the image – what a great way to solve that problem and we applauded Facebook for the introduction of this.

Clearly though it’s not working, we are still being hunted down and shut down, so the better choice would be to make it an option so that when WE post graphic birth images then we can choose to blur out the images and protect those who don’t want to see it but also protect ourselves from disruption or censorship.

For 15 years I have dedicated myself to supporting, educating caring and acknowledging women and their discomfort, confusion and fear around birth. I have devoted a huge chunk of my life, sometimes at the detriment of my family (being a birth worker means I get called out at times that clash with important family events) but that is the life I have chosen so that I can protect women’s choices and continue to give them what they need…, support, encouragement and resources.

Come on Facebook, fair go – we need to have autonomy to share birth images, because this is how we all came to be here, and this is important learning for everyone. The more we share the more “normal” birth becomes, and the fear of birth will be reduced and women will recognise they have choices and can have better births.

Peace starts with birth.

Vicki Hobbs
Back to Basics Birthing