A Response to Facebook’s Reversal of its Ban on SCAR Images

Guest Post by Lauren Culpepper

[Lauren is the production manager for The SCAR Project, David Jay’s right hand, my SCAR Project sidekick, not to mention, the most lovely soul to work with.]

Since The SCAR Project began six years ago, David Jay created a Facebook page for the project. What began as a small page of a few supporters has now become a thriving group supported by over 33,000. David has used Facebook as an immediate way of communicating directly and effectively as he continues his work with The SCAR Project. For years Facebook has randomly and periodically taken down images and banned David’s personal account which prevents him from posting.

It has been an unbelievably frustrating challenge. Every time this has occurred, there is no one at Facebook to contact in order to gain clarity on the image removal or ban. This has turned Facebook into a looming “big brother” for The SCAR Project, not knowing when it will strike again.

This time, however, a woman reached out via Twitter. Scorchy Barrington, currently stage IV and undergoing treatment, created a petition at Change.org on behalf of David and The SCAR Project that created a massive ripple effect with over 20,000 signatures. Two days after the petition was posted, Change.org got behind the petition, Facebook’s VP of global policy requested to speak to Susan and David, and a conference call was set up with Susan, David, Facebook, and Change.org. It was an extremely beneficial opportunity to listen to one another and have a chance to communicate directly. The following week, Change.org, Susan, Facebook and David exchanged emails editing what would become the new policy that you now
see on Facebook’s policy page.

While in many ways the new policy is a huge victory for breast cancer survivors, whether or not Facebook will continue to allow certain images to be posted on The SCAR Project’s page remains to be seen. The new policy is certainly improved, but also leaves plenty of room for Facebook to decide what images are allowed and what images are considered a violation. And, according to the new policy, The SCAR Project images previously taken down remain to be a violation. We continue to await the decision by Facebook as to whether or not they will re-post the images (including the hundreds of comments that accompany them) that were previously removed. It has now been over a month and we have yet to see those images restored to the Facebook page.

But the truth is that nothing has really changed at Facebook. In fact, the issue has nothing to do with breast cancer at all. Facebook never had any issues with mastectomies from the beginning. Mastectomies are not the problem. Nipples are. But not men’s nipples. Only women’s. Somewhere buried within the history of America’s societal evolution (or lack thereof), the female nipple became a body part to be hidden and ashamed of. The female nipple has and continues to violate every media policy in our country, but no one will admit to that fact. David Jay brought up the issue repeatedly while in discussions with Facebook, asking them to at least clarify that it was the female nipple that was in violation. Silence. No one wants to talk about it, yet everyone wants to abide by the unspoken “rule”: The female nipple is illegal in America.

And now, as we enter the world of breast cancer treatment (where we have everything from no breasts, breasts but no nipples, one breast with one nipple, breasts with reconstructed or tattooed nipples) we enter into a gray area that perpetuates the nipple conundrum. And the recent issue with Facebook’s policies has once again shined the limelight on the elephant in the room, only for the issue to be skirted around and avoided. How many more generations will continue to accept this view of the female body? With everyone’s recent finger-pointing at Facebook’s lack of clear policies regarding discriminatory, hateful, sexist, bigoted and misogynistic posts, the problem lies much deeper. And it is buried underneath decades of a misconstrued view of what a woman and her body represents.

You can read more of the press coverage at the following links:

ABCnews.com: Facebook Launches New Policy to Allow Mastectomy Photos
(Also posted on GMA/Yahoo)

ABC News Radio: Facebook Launches Policy to Allow Mastectomy Photos

NY Daily News: After backlash, Facebook says mastectomy photos are OK

Chicago Tribune: Facebook says yes to post-mastectomy photos

ThinkProgress: Facebook Promises to Stop Treating Photos of Breast Cancer Scars Like Pornography

CNET: Breast cancer activists win battle with Facebook over mastectomy photos

Huffington Post: Facebook Revises Wording of Policy on Post-MastectomyPhotos

The Daily Dot: 20,000 people convince Facebook to officially embracemastectomy photos

Medical Daily: Facebook Mastectomy Photos: Social Network ‘Clarifies’ Policy, Allows Breast Cancer Survivor Photos After Viral Backlash

TIME: Facebook Is Officially OK With (Some) Mastectomy Photos

Boston Globe: Facebook changes policy to allow post-mastectomy photos

Shape Magazine: Facebook Allows Post-Mastectomy Photos

Telegraph: Facebook allows mastectomy photos after breast cancer patient’s petition

The Inquisitr: Mastectomy Photos Allowed By New Facebook Policy

Daily Mail: Facebook launches new policy allowing mastectomy photos after breast cancer patient’s 20,000-strong petition

Herald Sun: Facebook allows post-mastectomy photos following petition


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About joulesevans

Occasionally radioactive with a chance of superpowers. I use them to fight cancer. Also I write. My first book Shaken Not Stirred...a Chemo Cocktail is available on Amazon and Kindle. I'm currently working on a sequel to Shaken, a figuring out life after cancer/travel memoir about a bucket list road trip I took of Route 66.

14 responses to “A Response to Facebook’s Reversal of its Ban on SCAR Images”

  1. Beverly Johnson says :

    I am opposed to my scars or anyone else’s scar on facebook. They’re websites on the internet if you Choose to see these scars. With Chose being the Key word.

    • Carri Bonner says :

      You don’t have to follow the project. You *choose* to follow pages that feature these images. If you don’t want to see them, simply hit “hide”. Problem solved without you censoring.

    • Julie says :

      It is about choice, and right now, Facebook is making the choice for all of us. In order to view any of the SCAR Project photos, one must choose to be a fan of the SCAR Project. If one does not want to see the photos, one never has to. If I want to see them, I should be able to, and my ability to see the photos in no way impacts your choice not to see the photos. No one is forced to see anything on Facebook, and banning these images is simply discriminatory, as the article above states.

    • johna rosemont says :

      My friend jolen did pics for mr jay …an fb took them down….I went the hell off on mr suckerburger….an her pic was put back. ….its not far to have under age girls on fb with their soft porn pics….and the guys too…..I told him if ur mom ur sister ur wife had breast cancer an did the scar project….guess what buddy how dare u…they where back….lov a breast cancer survior

    • johna rosemont says :

      Then don’t look at them….

  2. Amanda R. says :

    I so appreciate that you are willing to fight for these brave women and this incredible project. Thank you. My aunt passed away 3 years ago after a long battle with metastatic breast cancer. I wish I had found your project before then. She would have LOVED it.

  3. Chuck Hall says :

    I reported a photo on Facebook of an adult male strangling a baby. In the photo the baby’s face was blue. Facebook told me the picture didn’t violate their terms of service. But this does?

  4. Concerned survivor says :

    Thanks for keeping this important dialogue going. I’m interested that FB’s policy extends to reconstructed breasts. Any woman with “foobs” knows that surgeons are very clear about NOT calling reconstructed breasts, “breasts.” Among other terms, surgeons refer to them as mounds. And to make my particular situation even more interesting, my “mounds” are nipple-less, but the aereola remains (I had 2 aereola sparing mastectomies). While the appearance of my implants are extremely natural to the naked eye, I do not have breast tissue and I do not have nipples. Lastly, as a 30 year old cancer warrior, I’m 100% proud of women who embrace their scars. A scar can tell a powerful story without the need for words and it’s time FB stopped to listen.

  5. Donna P. says :

    I love my scars! Without them I might not be here, so I’m proud and blessed to have them!

  6. Laura Hanjoglu-Goerke says :

    I think that what you are doing on the SCAR project is invaluable. It is important for people to see that full impact of Breast Cancer on the people who have it and their loved ones. Keep doing what you are doing!

  7. Catherine says :

    Very interesting, I hadn’t realized there was an issue directly because of the nipples. It’s interesting that it’s okay for a man but not a woman, when really – it can be a sensitive area for anyone of either gender.

  8. scott harris says :

    I am a male with a large breast scar, and no one that has gone what we men and women have gone through to get these scars will understand nor accept until they are put in the rotten situation we have. If God has chosen you to survive and beat this disease then damn right to SHOW THOSE SCARS!!! anyone that doesn’t want to see them hit hide and leave us proud and happy to be alive people the hell alone!

  9. Khristina Tanner says :

    Scars are our proof of a battle against a feast disease. Mine are not as bad as some of the women pictured. I thought it was comforting to know it could be worse and that these brave women are so courageous!!

  10. slbarto68 says :

    Personally, I believe not allowing nipple pictures is a mistake…thankfully, there are groups on facebook who encourage their members to share their photos. I had heard how amazing 3d nipple tattooing is…I had a different method of nipple reconstruction. I had to verify with the poster that she had 3d nipple tattooing done because it looked JUST like beautiful REAL nipples. This is how we make our choices…we need access to information because our doctors may not know or may not be able to offer specific methods and we need to share our outcomes so others can learn.

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