The nipple could soon be released by the parent company of Facebook and Instagram. Meta’s Oversight Board has called for an overhaul to the company’s rules that prohibit bare-breasts ban images of women, but not men, more than a decade after breastfeeding mothers first held a “nurse-in” at Facebook’s headquarters to protest the company’s ban on breasts.

Facebook censored two posts from an American transgender and non-binary couple’s account, prompting the Oversight Board’s decision. The captions on the posts talked about trans healthcare and how to raise money for top surgery, and they showed the couple posing topless but with their nipples covered.

Users flagged the posts, which an AI system reviewed and then removed nipple images.

Meta eventually restored the posts following the couple’s appeal of the decision.

The board came to the conclusion that because “the policy is based on a binary view of gender and a distinction between male and female bodies,” the prohibition against nipple-baring for intersex, non-binary, and transgender individuals is “unclear.”

The movement to #FreetheNipple gained widespread support in 2013 after “Lactivists” spent the 2000s attempting to dispel the notion that breasts are inherently sexual. After Facebook removed clips from the actor/director Lina Esco’s documentary Free the Nipple, the phrase entered pop-feminist usage in 2013.

Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, and Lena Dunham were among the celebrities who supported the campaign on college campuses nipple shows images.

Last week, Florence Pugh commented on her red carpet appearance in a sheer Valentino gown in hot pink, saying, Naturally, I do not wish to offend anyone, but I believe that my point is: How can my nipples be so offensive to you?”

Micol Hebron, a Los Angeles-based artist, created stickers of male nipples in 2015 so that female Instagram users could superimpose them over their own to make fun of the gender gap.

Hebron stated, “During that meeting, we learned that the content moderation policy team did not have any transgender members, and I also observed that there were no gender-neutral restrooms there.

However, Hebron stated that she was “excited” that the oversight board had addressed the issue of discrimination based on gender and sex.

Hebron stated, “I think it’s really important to hold on to the goal of allowing all bodies to have autonomy.” “Beyond just “let’s let women be topless,” which is not at all in my interest, Talking about nipples may seem frivolous to a lot of people, but when you consider the ways in which governments around the world attempt to control and repress female-identifying bodies, transgender bodies, and non-binary bodies, it is not.”

The spokesperson continued, “We are constantly evolving our policies to help make our platforms safer for everyone.” Working with experts and LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations on a variety of issues and product enhancements is one way we can support the LGBTQ+ community more.

Meta has 60 days to publicly respond to the recommendations made by the board.

Although proponents may welcome the concept of a more open nipple online, it is still unclear how Meta’s automated content-moderation systems will be able to enforce a new policy on nipples. The company’s artificial intelligence initially failed to distinguish between a couple soliciting sex online and a couple fundraising to pay for top surgery. Therefore, how will these systems be able to distinguish between porn and topless posts?

The Guardian was informed by Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, that “algorithms are terrible at context.”

The tension over how Meta can create new rules without opening the floodgates to porn, which is why those rules are in place, will be an interesting question. Bell previously held a number of positions at the Guardian, one of which was as a Scott Trust non-executive director.)

Users of Facebook and Instagram can also report posts that they think are in violation of the company’s policies, as they did with the photo that led the board to make its decision.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s director of international freedom of expression, Jillian York, added that it was “tricky” for businesses that use AI to make the right decision in every situation. For instance, determining who is a topless adult and who is a topless child is difficult for automated technology, she stated.

According to Sarah Murnen, Kenyon College’s Samuel B.

Cummings II professor of psychology, the Free the Nipple movement had previously focused on white, cisgender women, but that was changing. She stated, “When we talked about this as a problem for cis women, it seemed less important than it is now with trans people wanting to be open about their bodies and anti-trans sentiment at an all-time high.”

Meta has been advised to relax its strict, binary approach to online body policing. However, many are quick to question AI’s capability to safeguard all users. The most important takeaway from this is this: According to Bell, “the creation of automated systems will have consequences for people who are more marginalized, or the minority in society.

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