Facebook and Instagram told to ‘free the nipple’ by Meta oversight board

A Meta oversight board has recommended the company overhaul its rules on bare-chested photos on its social media platforms Instagram and Facebook

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Instagram and Facebook could soon “free the nipple” as parent company Meta is told to overhaul its rules on bare-chested women on its platforms. The decision comes from a company oversight board, and could see the platform allowing people to post women’s breasts without repercussions.

The Meta oversight board consists of academics, journalists and politicians, and advise the company on content-moderation policies and rules affecting social media platforms Instagram and Facebook. In a decision on Tuesday (January 17), the board asked the company to look over its adult nudity and sexual activity standards “so that it is governed by clear criteria that respect international human rights standards”.

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The ruling comes after Facebook censored two photos of an American couple who are non-binary and transgender. The posts, which featured the couple topless but with their nipples covered, were meant to raise money for top surgery and shine a light on transgender healthcare.

The posts were removed after having been flagged by users and analysed by the platforms AI system for breaking the platforms rules on nudity. Meta eventually restored the pictures after the couple appealed the decision.

The overhaul board came to the conclusion that the company’s current policy is “based on a binary view of gender and a distinction between male and female bodies”, which makes the rules unclear on people identifying as non-binary, intersex or transgender. In the decision, the board asked Meta to define clear and objective rights-respecting criteria “so that all people are treated in a manner consistent with international human rights standards”.

The Free the nipple movement on Facebook and Instagram is nothing new and has been around for over a decade, with the hashtag #FreeTheNipple becoming mainstream back in 2013. The campaign has gained support from celebrities such as Miley Cyrus and Rihanna.

Meta has to respond publicly to the oversight board’s decision within 60 days.