Facebook and Instagram may be about to “free the nipples” after owner Meta’s oversight board said rules on nudity on the site should be overhauled.
In a ruling, the committee said Yuan Needs to change their adult nudity policy to be more inclusive.
The company said its existing policies were based on a binary view of gender, so it was unclear how the rules would apply to intersex, non-binary and transgender people.
The free nipples movement began more than a decade ago, followed by a 2012 film of the same name that sparked protests demanding women’s right to bare breasts both online and offline.
Conversations about transgender people and gender fluidity added nuance and complexity to the discussion, and it was at this point that Meta’s oversight board intervened.
The board reversed Meta’s previous decision to delete an Instagram post by an American couple who identified as transgender and non-binary.
In the photo, the couple are topless with their nipples covered. The headline discusses transgender health care, explaining that the couple is raising money to have one of them undergo top-of-the-line surgery (gender-affirming surgery to create flatter breasts).
According to the decision, the posts were flagged by Meta’s system, as well as reports from users, and removed for violating community standards for sexual solicitation, “appearing to be because they contained breasts and links to fundraising pages.”
Users appealed the removal, and Meta eventually reinstated the post.
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“We know we can do more”
Meta’s existing policy prohibits the inclusion of images of women’s nipples except in specific circumstances, such as breastfeeding and gender-affirming surgery.
The committee called the rules on women’s nipples “broad and confusing, especially when they apply to transgender and non-binary people”.
It added that “this created confusion for users and moderators and, as Meta recognized, resulted in content being mistakenly removed”.
The board found that Meta’s policies on its social platforms were “gender-based binary views and the distinction between male and female bodies,” which “makes it difficult to understand how the rules apply to intersex, non-binary, and transgender people.” Not sure.
It said Meta should change its approach to managing nudity “through well-defined standards … ensuring that all users are treated in a manner consistent with human rights standards”.
The oversight board, which includes academics, rights experts and lawyers, was created by the company to rule on a handful of thorny content moderation appeals, but it can also make recommendations on broader site policy. The committee is funded by Meta but operates independently.
A spokesman for Meta said the company had recognized that the content posted by the American couple should not have been removed prior to the board’s report and welcomed the board’s decision.
In a statement, Meta said: “We are constantly evaluating our policies to help make our platform safer for everyone. We know more can be done to support the LGBTQ+ community, and that means working on a range of issues. Collaborate with experts and LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations and product improvements.”