Activists have long advocated to “free the nipple,” and that debate continues online.
Men can post as many shirtless bathroom selfies as they please, but Meta’s Adult Nudity and Sexual Activity guidelines state that “uncovered female nipples” aren’t allowed, unless depicting:
- Giving birth
- Medical or health contexts (e.g., breast cancer awareness, gender-affirming surgery)
Meanwhile, its content moderation systems seem utterly confused by trans and nonbinary chests.
Meta’s Oversight Board, which helps the tech giant make decisions about content moderation, wants an overhaul, saying current policies pose “greater barriers to expression” for women and LGBTQ+ people.
It started with an appeal…
… from a couple — one of whom is transgender, the other nonbinary — who said Meta had removed two photos in which they appeared bare-chested with nipples covered while fundraising for one partner’s top surgery (a procedure to remove breast tissue).
Following alerts from user reports and Meta’s automated systems, Instagram removed the posts for violating sexual solicitation policies, despite top surgery being a gender-affirming procedure.
The board overturned Meta’s decision…
… and wants Meta to revamp its “convoluted and poorly defined” moderation criteria, which it says is based on a binary view of gender, is confusing for users and moderators, and results in wrongfully removed content.
The board recommends Meta:
- Define how it moderates adult nudity after conducting a human rights impact assessment
- Provide more detail in its public-facing guidelines on what gets removed and why
- Revise guidance for moderators to accurately reflect those details
Meta has 59 days to issue a public response, per The Guardian.
But moderation may remain difficult, according to experts, who say that bad actors may still flag posts that don’t violate standards — and that AI isn’t always great at nuance.
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