Recently, photographer Jill White from North Carolina posted a picture to Facebook of her daughter on the beach.
In the photo, Ms. White's two-year-old daughter is standing in front of a very young friend. The friend is pulling the bottom portion of the daughter's bathing suit and the young girl's buttocks are exposed.
Ms. White thought the photo was "cute." She stated that it reminded her of a famous 1953 Coppertone sunscreen advertisement featuring a dog pulling down the swimsuit of a young girl similarly exposing her bottom.
She posted the image to Coppertone's Facebook page, but someone complained and Facebook representatives investigated.
In an email, Facebook officials gave Ms. White two options: delete the photo or change her account status to private so that only people that she had approved could see her postings and photos.
She ignored the email and she was banned from the site for 24 hours.
After the ban, Ms. White modified the bare-bottom in the photo by putting an emoticon over it. She then reposted the image of her daughter on the beach.
In several news stories, Ms. White argues that the first image is not a violation of Facebook's terms of service, is not even indecent, and that she is "outraged" at the actions levied against her.
- Ms. White's posted picture showing her daughter's exposed butt is a clear violation of Facebook's Terms of Service (Yes, I did read it).
- Facebook's demands were reasonable: remove it immediately or set your account to private. If private, she could then moderate who was able to view the photo.
- I am sure that this national notoriety will be beneficial for Ms. White's photography business (any publicity is good publicity), but the more she argues "outrage" the less informed she appears.
What am I trying to say specifically with #3?
From a policing perspective, Ms. White's posted photo could be very appealing to those interested in pornography.
This seemingly innocent image of her 2-year old daughter's exposed bottom and the young friend could be very easily manipulated, even just a little, and promoted as child porn.
The altered image could then be exchanged worldwide for decades.
When users post photos of children (especially images involving compromising positions) to Facebook/Instagram/blogs or whatever social media, they have to understand that those pictures could be used for the unthinkable--pornography or cyberstalking to name two.
Realizing this and wanting no part of it, Facebook has a clearly defined policy about nudity.
And though Facebook's actions are to protect the organization legally, they are at the same time deterring predators that sadly stalk the Internet looking for children.
Facebook made the right call here, and Ms. White would be wise to end the debate.
Note: You can view the images described in the this controversy, by clicking this news article.