Facebook bans breast cancer campaign of survivors showing scars ‘as it’s an ad’

Furious breast cancer survivors, who have bravely shown their scars as part of an awareness campaign, have had their images banned from Facebook .

The social media giant deems the campaign, which shows women covering their breasts with pink buns, an advertising campaign and has banned it from their site. 

Images for the Pink Bun campaign, a joint initiative between Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) and the Baker’s Delight bakery chain, show breast cancer survivors bravely showing their surgery and mastectomy scars.

The nine women and one man are photographed holding the bakery’s products over or next to their scars.

Lindsey Kennedy is one of the women who take part in the campaign and describes it as "one of the best things I've ever done".

She said: " I knew it would draw attention, turn heads and I was in!

"Sporting jeans and holding pink buns, the images reveal the hard hitting reality of my battle scars.

"I knew it would be a talking point among communities.

"I didn’t have a choice about how my breasts looked after my multiple surgeries and by having my scars exposed it shows that I’m a survivor, which in turn offers hope to others."

The mum was diagnosed with breast cancer just over a year ago.

Lindsey said: "I was 44 years old, happily married with two young children and working full-time.

"My whole world was turned upside down when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

It came as a shock even though perhaps it shouldn’t have, both of my nannas have died of cancer, my brother fought cancer and my sister has been diagnosed with breast cancer twice." 

The campaign, in which all proceeds of the buns covered in pink icing go to the breast cancer charity, had initially been approved by Facebook.

But this week the social network backtracked and banned the ads, saying the campaign breached its partial-nudity policy.

The decision to block the circulation of the photos has been slammed by campaigners, while one of the breast cancer survivors involved in the campaign said she was "insulted" by the ban.

And the charity behind said it was “nonsensical” and threatened their efforts to raise funds and awareness for victims of breast cancer, the most common cancer diagnosed in Australian woman.

Kirsten Pilatti, BCNA’s chief executive, said: “We were really disappointed by Facebook, because there are ten very brave people who have made a stand to show the impact of their lives.

“The opening days of the campaign are where we raise the most money for BCNA to ensure we can provide free resources to those people with breast cancer.

“Facebook is a very important tool for us to promote the campaign.”

Lindsey says the support she received from Breast Cancer Network Australia was vital while she was battling the disease and that she wanted to get involved in the campaign so she could help others.

She explained: "From the moment I was diagnosed I felt an innate desire to help others to ensure they could receive the same support that I did.

With a background in education I set about entering staffrooms in schools to talk about early detection.

"I knew of the annual Pink Bun fundraiser that it is run  through BCNA’s long time partner Bakers Delight.

"100% of the Pink Bun sales goes directly to the charity that provides free support to any Australian with breast cancer.

"When the call went out for survivors to be involved in the campaign it was like a Eureka moment.

"I thought ‘this is it, this is how I can help others’.

"When it became apparent that some images would have me covered with only pink buns or bread rolls with my double mastectomy scars on show, I had a big smile on my face.

"I felt this would remind people to get breast checks whilst raising much needed funds allowing BCNA’s services to remain free."

And Lindsey has now demanded Facebook review its censorship policy.

She added: "Facebook’s initial decision to reject the sponsored imagery was overturned but on the day of  the campaign launch it decided to ‘disapprove’ it again.

"Such injustice means that the right to bring across the importance of charity and donations on a national level cannot happen.

"How can I, Baker’s Delight and BCNA achieve our goals if one of the biggest social media networks will not allow us?

"I am proud of the pictures and of my involvement in the campaign.

"Being a courageous woman and still fighting means that I put aside my devastation to help a charity raise funds and show that those who are going through breast cancer are not alone.

"I should be applauded by Facebook, not made to feel ashamed."

Kate Murray, 51, one of the women also featured in this year’s campaign, said: “I’m insulted and bemused as to why Facebook would ban something so beautiful, compassionate and honest. This campaign is nothing but good.”

Facebook explained that it rejected the ads because they did not contain any education about the disease or teach women how to examine their breasts.

It said since the ads were selling a product, they were held to a higher standard than other images because people could not block ads the way they could block content from pages they followed.

Antonia Sanda, Facebook Australia’s head of communications, said: “We recognise the importance of ads about breast cancer education or teaching women how to examine their breasts and we allow these on our platforms.

“However, these specific ads do not contain any of these messages, rather, it is a brand selling a product.”

She said the Pink Bun campaign was briefed on Facebook's advertising guidelines before the campaign was launched.

“We have been working with the advertiser to advise them how we can run these ads and are disappointed that they have not taken our guidance,” she said.

But Ms Pilatti said that Facebook’s actions could mean the organisation would be able to help fewer people battling breast cancer.

This year, over 19,00 Australians will be diagnosed with breast cancer, including over 150 men.

She said: “This campaign traditionally raises $1.5 million (£1.1million) for the organisation, and now, the prospect of not getting some of that funding, means we might not be able to provide some of the free resources for people living with breast cancer that we usually do.”

Ms Murray said: “BCNA has been the most vital part of my breast cancer experience and I hate to think they might not be able to provide the same level care to others because of this decision.”

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