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Facebook messes up in breastfeeding kerfuffle

We recently touched upon the way Facebook handles its own public relations. Now the social networking site is the target of an uproar because it deleted photos of breastfeeding users and even suspended one Canadian mother from her account after she asked why her photos had been deleted.

The Toronto Star writes:
“Last month, Facebook closed the account of an Edmonton mother who had posted breastfeeding photos and the site deleted images many others has put up, claiming they violated rules about nudity and “obscene content.” Breastfeeding advocates set up a petition group on the social networking site called “Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene.” It hit the news and within days, the petition had more than 20,000 members.”

This group has now in excess of 25,000 members.

Now any company can make mistakes. But it’s how you handle those mistakes that make the difference in crisis communications. See for example how Southwestern Airlines (eventually) managed to score at least some PR points after almost throwing a female student off a plane for having a too short skirt. In the case of Facebook, blogger and columnist David Wescott took the trouble to ask Facebook about how and why they removed those photos. Read his email correspondence here. I think it’s fair to say that Facebook’s approach to PR does not include a lot of conversation, which is a bit odd for a social networking site.

[Via For Immediate Release.]

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