Meta’s Oversight Board, an internal body that oversees content moderation for Facebook and Instagram, has ruled that transgender women and non-binary users will be now permitted to display their breasts across the social-media platforms, while biological females who identify as such will still be barred from showing that part of their bodies.
“The same image of female-presenting nipples would be prohibited if posted by a cisgender woman, but permitted if posted by an individual self-identifying as non-binary. The Board also notes additional nipple-related exceptions based on contexts of protest, birth giving, after birth and breastfeeding which it did not examine here,” the board said in a Tuesday statement explaining its ruling.
The announcement came after an American couple, one of whom is transgender and the other non-binary, posted topless pictures with their nipples covered. The posts were eventually flagged by users and removed, leading the couple to appeal the decision.
Although Meta eventually reinstated the photo, it set off an internal review of its existing content moderation policies under the company’s Adult Nudity and Sexual Activity Community Standard.
The Oversight Board, comprised of academics, journalists, and politicians, also condemned the company’s prior approach to flagging images of breasts because it reflected an outdated view of gender and sex.
“This policy is based on a binary view of gender and a distinction between male and female bodies. Such an approach makes it unclear how the rules apply to intersex, non-binary and transgender people, and requires reviewers to make rapid and subjective assessments of sex and gender, which is not practical when moderating content at scale,” the board said.
The company will rely on “human reviewers” to determine whether a user is permitted to display their bare breasts based on their gender identity,. the board said
Mark Zuckerberg has called the internal advisory board content the company’s “Supreme Court.”
Facebook had faced opposition over a decade ago from breastfeeding mothers (some of whom were known as “lactivists“) over a similar issue. At the time, the platform removed photographs if they included a woman’s nipple or areola.