Cancer survivors say they have been unfairly banned by Facebook. Here’s why.
Cancer survivors say they have been unfairly banned by Facebook. Here’s why.

‘It isn’t sexy’: Cancer survivors banned from Facebook

CANCER survivors on the Gold Coast say they have been unfairly banned by a social media giant for sharing photos of the mastectomies or breast reconstructions to a private group.

Founders of Women's Cancer Support GC Sandra Johnston and Nicole Drummond say they have been frustrated by repeated warnings and bans from Facebook due to links and photos they and other members have shared.

The images which depict either scarred breast tissue, tattooed nipples, reactions to treatment or reconstruction surgery, have all been flagged as nudity or sexual content by Facebook.

Both women say in addition to warnings, they were then given bans lasting up to three days from posting - with no option to appeal.

Spokesman Nicole Drummond (centre) and members of the Womens Cancer Support GC protesting at their treatment by social media giant Facebook. Picture: Glenn Hampson
Spokesman Nicole Drummond (centre) and members of the Womens Cancer Support GC protesting at their treatment by social media giant Facebook. Picture: Glenn Hampson

Mrs Drummond, who is a cancer survivor herself, said every time she attempted to explain her case, she would receive a message that said there were fewer reviewers available due to COVID-19 and therefore no one was able to follow up.

"There is nothing we can do and as a predominantly breast cancer group, we need these images," Mrs Drummond explained.

"It's a private group and everyone is screened to ensure they are female, live on the Gold Coast and have cancer."

Because of the bans, both women who are administrators in the group were unable to monitor posts for a time.

"A lot of women have had mastectomies, myself included. The photos show you what to expect after reconstruction," she said.

"It's really scary, we are told they can use our stomach, or even our back to make new breasts. So to be able to see what a stomach boob looks like is really beneficial if you are contemplating a 12-hour procedure."

Members are also being warned for positing photos of themselves when seeking advice.

"For example, a member posted a picture of a red raw breast that has had radiation.

"The poor lady is in excruciating pain and wants to know what she can do and has anyone had that happen before.

"It is necessary for our group to be able to post photos for this reason."

The link to a breast cancer website that set off nudity flags at Facebook
The link to a breast cancer website that set off nudity flags at Facebook

Sandra Johnston, who is also the face of the current Breast Screen Queensland Campaign, said she has been banned three times in the last month with no review.

One instance was for posting a live video of a local breast surgeon discussing surgery options.

The most recent incident involved a ban for sharing a link to a legitimate breast cancer organisation page which illustrated reconstructions.

"Breast cancer is not sexual," Ms Johnston said.

"How can people who advocate for something as important as this be banned from supporting women with breast cancer.

"We need to be able to share photos to support the newbies in particularly when they first receive this crap diagnosis."

Sandra Johnston said breast cancer survivors are constantly getting banned from facebook for up to a week for sharing photos of their before and after surgeries. Picture: Jerad Williams
Sandra Johnston said breast cancer survivors are constantly getting banned from facebook for up to a week for sharing photos of their before and after surgeries. Picture: Jerad Williams

Facebook Australia has been contacted for comment and are currently investigating the matter.

Under its nudity policy Facebook states it has a "nuanced approach".

"We understand nudity can be shared for a variety of reasons, including as a form of protest, to raise awareness about a cause or for educational or medical reasons. Where such intent is clear, we make allowances for the content.

"For example, while we restrict some images of female breasts that include the nipple, we allow other images, including those depicting acts of protest, women actively engaged in breastfeeding and photos of post-mastectomy scarring."

kirstin.payne@news.com.au

 

Originally published as 'It isn't sexy': Why cancer survivors were banned from Facebook



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