Facebook Clarifies Policy On Post-Mastectomy Photos

By David Cohen 

Facebook used its Help Center to outline its policy on photos of people who have undergone mastectomies, and it will refrain from deleting those photos from the social network, following a campaign by breast cancer survivors.

The New York Daily News reported on the successful Change.org petition started by survivor Scorchy Barrington, who said in a statement:

For some time now, Facebook’s policy regarding mastectomy photos was loosely defined. From now on, these powerful visual testaments to the real impact of breast cancer and the resilience of breast cancer survivors will be welcomed on Facebook, as they should be.

According to the Daily News, Barrington and photographer David Jay met with Facebook executives last week. Jay is behind photo series The SCAR Project, which documents women after mastectomies.

Facebook told the newspaper mastectomy photos that were removed may have been flagged for violating nudity standards.

A new entry on Facebook’s Help Center, titled “Does Facebook allow post-mastectomy photos?,” reads:

Yes. We agree that undergoing a mastectomy is a life-changing experience and that sharing photos can help raise awareness about breast cancer and support the men and women facing a diagnosis, undergoing treatment, or living with the scars of cancer. The vast majority of these kinds of photos are compliant with our policies.

However, photos with fully exposed breasts, particularly if they’re unaffected by surgery, do violate Facebook’s terms. These policies are based on the same standards that apply to television and print media, and that govern sites with a significant number of young people.

Readers: What should Facebook’s policy be regarding photos of people who have undergone mastectomies?