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Breastfeeding pics on social media: Jeanna Hoch on critics, Facebook after account blocked again

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Last month, we told you about Jeanna Hoch, who went public after Facebook suspended her account due to the presence of breastfeeding photos -- images the site explicitly allows.

Hoch's page was reinstated after the media circulated her story. But she was temporarily blocked from posting new content again amid charges from critics that she's a former stripper who only wants publicity. She refutes such accusations and spells out the reasons for her campaign -- one that extends beyond Facebook, as another woman's experience with Instagram shows.

As we wrote in our original post, Hoch posted the following photo on June 17....

...as well as an image shared with 9News that the station strategically blurred for broadcast: Hoch was prepared for a reaction to such shots. On June 19, she posted the following: "Save yourself the time. You do not need to explain yourself before hitting that unfriend button. There is no need for a PM, a comment, or a hairflip. Buh-bye now!"

A short time later, she provided an update on the reaction: "Since yesterday, I have lost seven FB friends (that I know of). I feel so much lighter now that immature adults that can't handle a woman breastfeeding her baby with a bare breast exposed have removed themselves or been removed from my page. The reporting has stopped, and FB has not removed my pics. 'Nanny nanny boo boo. Stick your head in doo doo!'"

The celebrating stopped shortly thereafter, when Facebook took down her page, apparently because someone flagged one of the photos as "inappropriate." Hoch reacted by reaching out to 9News. The station then contacted Facebook about the decision, which contradicted the social media giant's own policy. A Facebook "help" section passage quoted by the station answers the question of whether breastfeeding photos are allowed like so:

Yes. We agree that breastfeeding is natural and beautiful and we're glad to know that it's important for mothers to share their experiences with others on Facebook. The vast majority of these photos are compliant with our policies. Please note that the photos we review are almost exclusively brought to our attention by other Facebook members who complain about them being shared on Facebook.

After a second inquiry from the station, Hoch's page was put back online, with a Facebook rep explaining to the station that an employee had acted "by mistake."

Before long, however, this "mistake" was repeated again.

Continue for more about Jeanna Hoch and breastfeeding photos on Facebook, including additional photos. After the 9News story aired, Hoch designated the following meme as her Facebook profile pic:

The reaction from Facebook was swift, as can be seen in this image posted by Hoch on June 21: "Well, here we go again," she wrote about the image. "Let's see if FB blocks me for a third time for the exact same picture they claimed was removed by accident. Thanks, whoever reported. You are helping the cause. #freethenipple."

In the end, Hoch tells us via e-mail, she was blocked from posting content for 24 hours over the meme version of a pic that had supposedly been flagged in error. Meanwhile, criticism of her motives mounted, with accusations including personal immodesty and a skewed perspective on body image shaped by her past as a recently retired stripper.

Regarding the first charge, Hoch writes that "modesty is subjective. My protest is against people forcing women to conform to their sense of modesty based on a patriarchal norm of sexually objectifiying the female body. I chose to post the picture, not to draw attention to myself, but to draw attention to a problem I view in society."

She adds that "all attacks on my former employment are attempts at character assassination and have no merit. One, because they only point out the problem: women's bodies are often used as sexual objects and for male purposes, but when a woman chooses to use or display her body for her own purpose, the shaming begins. Two, I am not a 'recently retired stripper.' I have worked in the Denver nightclub scene from 2005-2011 in various roles: door personnel, beer tub, bartender, TLC, cocktail waitress.... I attempted stage dancing for a very short time (approximately a month and was never contracted) in 2007. So...people should probably fact check before throwing accusations around, but more importantly, they should stop trying to shame women for being comfortable with their bodies."

By speaking out so publicly, Hoch has become a target on Facebook. "Since my story aired, my photos have been reported almost daily," she notes -- and while "no other photos that were reported have been removed" after the aforementioned 24-hour blockage, "this hasn't been the case for friends of mine that shared my photo and other breastfeeding photos similar to mine."

Courtney Patten is an example. She promotes "body positivity and public nudity" on Instagram under the username @bodypositivemama and recently shared the following image:

"The only 'nudity' involved is my bare breast and nipple, which is supposed to be allowed in breastfeeding and skin-to-skin pictures now," she writes. However, "someone I do not know reposted my picture without consent, with the intent of attacking me. I reported it to Instagram but they did not do anything to the woman about it. There is not an option for reporting someone who is using your pictures without permission or for posting disrespectful comments onto pictures."

Two hours later, Patten continues, "my account was deleted without warning. I have had two previous pictures that showed my bare breasts and nipples also removed without any notification or explanation. I have tried contacting Instagram and Facebook but have had no progress."

In asking us to share her story, Patten states that "I want others to see the double standards of Instagram. They do not remove pictures of women posing sexually wearing nothing but panties, or male underwear ads. Yet my whole account was deleted, and the only reason I can think of is that several strangers reported my account over my picture, which according to the supposed change in policy about breastfeeding or skin-to-skin pictures, did not violate anything. Instagram did not protect me from the harassment of strangers and instead targeted me."

Hoch's not surprised. In her view, social-media moderators like those at Facebook "are still having a difficult time understanding that breastfeeding is not a sexual act...ever."

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our News archive circa June 2010: "Breastfeeding mea culpa from Colorado Rockies."

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