Facebook Bans Photos Of Child Born With Birth Defect Because Insensitive Jerks Are In Charge Of Moderating Images

grayson familyFacebook, the site that is notorious for not removing pages and photos that are actually offensive and banning photos that aren’t, has done it again. The site banned a family from posting pictures of the few hours they had with their child who was born with a severe birth defect. The images are a touching testament to a parent’s love for their child, and it is really heinous that Facebook considered them “offensive.”

Grayson Walker had anencephaly, a fatal condition which caused him to be born without parts of his brain and skull. The day he was born, his family had a special photo shoot done and a video made so they could remember his short life. Grayson’s mother, Heather Walker, finally posted the pictures to Facebook last month, two years after his death. From Essential Baby:

“Not long after, Facebook deleted them because of the content,” Walker told the media. “They allow people to post almost nude pictures of themselves, profanity, and so many other things but I’m not allowed to share a picture of God’s beautiful creation.”

To protest Facebook’s actions, Walker and her friends re-posted the photos, which resulted in Walker being banned from the site for 24 hours.

It may be hard to watch a family who you know will soon be losing a child. But the brief moments they spent cherishing him are just so beautiful. That anyone could find this offensive blows me away. Here is the video:

Facebook removed her photos and banned her from posting for 24 hours. Facebook’s team of image searches is in dire need of some sensitivity training – or some training in what is actually offensive. Breastfeeding photos are constantly being banned – now photos of family cherishing the few hours they have with their child is offensive, too? All the while it sometimes takes months to get pages that actually are offensive and problematic removed.

I’m sorry for the family’s loss and also sorry that they had to deal with the photo ban. I can’t imagine sharing something like that and getting that type of backlash. Heather Grayson has shared the photos on her personal blog.

(photo: YouTube)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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    • jane

      Facebook only bans images that are reported. Heather’s friends are the “insensitive jerks”.

      • E. Silva

        Yes the person who reported this is a complete asshole but so are the people at Facebook for CONFIRMING this was offensive and banning it. Just because it’s reported doesn’t mean it’s deleted. Both parties are insensitive jerks and my heart aches for this family and the sweet, precious child they lost.

      • jane

        It’s mostly automated and when a picture is reported a certain number of times, it’s deleted.

      • Kay_Sue

        They do have some kind of review that’s triggered in some instances, but it’s spotty and I haven’t ever read a clear explanation of how it works. I know one of my friends reported a meme that she found offensive as a sexual assault survivor, and received a message that it had been reviewed and deemed appropriate content and so would not be removed…but I don’t know if that only applies to whatever reason she suggested while reporting or what. Most of them do just seem to automatically disappear.

      • PreciousLostThings

        I’ve only reported pages, in both cases they were glorifying things much more horrible than this video. One was making fun of children dying of cancer, the other was advocating killing animals. Both times, Facebook sent me a form email telling me that the pages were within the TOS and wouldn’t be taken down. Meanwhile, one person apparently reported my image of a topless, headless, nipple-less mannequin in a store window as offensive, and it was taken down and I was sent a nasty email from Facebook about the TOS involving nudity. Whoever is in charge of the review process when something is reported….they are morons.

      • Rachel Sea

        They are overloaded. Groups like Million Moms, and thousands of individual jerks fill the system with stuff that is absolutely permissible (like gay people kissing, or moms breastfeeding), and it prevents everything from being processed correctly.

        Facebook doesn’t lose money by doing a crap job at this stuff, so they have no incentive to hire enough people to do it right.

      • pitbullgirl65

        That’s horrible. I hate facebook

    • CMJ

      Did she share them publicly? Or are her friends the horrible people who reported her?

    • C.J.

      That’s not offensive, it’s heartbreaking. I wish facebook would worry more about all the spam on their site and leave baby pictures alone. I just cried all the way through that video. I find it offensive that his pictures were deleted.

    • Larkin

      Why on earth would this get banned??? Is it just the fact that he has a birth defect that people find disturbing? Are they going to start banning photos of adults and older children with physical “problems” that other people don’t like looking at? That’s ridiculous.

      This whole video was just incredibly sad. That poor family.

    • March

      Facebook outsources its moderation tasks. To random, untrained people on various continents who earn 1 dollar per hour with slogging through thousands of photos all day. Or, as BusinessInsider puts it, “Facebook is a fundamentally broken product that is collapsing under its own weight”.

    • Frannie

      I can’t bear to watch the video, because I know I’m going to sit here and ugly cry at work, but what strikes me about the cover image of the video is that the mother is smiling. It takes a very brave and strong person to put her own sadness aside and just be a warm and friendly face to his or her child for the brief amount of time they have. I would be a hysterical mess, and probably scare the poor baby.

      • Rachel Sea

        I think it’s one of the upsides of ultrasounds. They knew he was ancephalic before he was born, and had some time to come to terms with it. I’m sure they did their share of hysterical crying in the months before he was born. Surviving with that level of deformity isn’t necessarily a blessing, I think my grief would be tempered with relief that he wouldn’t have to suffer, so I could just be glad to meet him instead.

      • Frannie

        Duh, I should have figured as much. Yes, you’re probably correct :)

    • cori

      The only thing I can think to make this make sense is because of all those “sick baby for like & shares” posts. They should be shut down. This isn’t one of those cases, but maybe it was mistakenly thought to be one.

    • Taxes Make Kittens Cry

      All mods suck!

      • meteor_echo

        Take your words back – Eve doesn’t :I

      • Taxes Make Kittens Cry

        I know. Eve’s awesome!

        I just got banned on CNN for the 300th+ time

        Just venting.

      • scooby23

        Awwwww *hugs*

    • arrow2010

      Maybe it’s a cultural thing for me, but why would you ever post such a photo on Facebook? Isn’t the death of an infant supposed to be an intensely private affair?

      • Rachel Sea

        People want to share their babies, even if they were only alive before they were born.

        Infant deaths used to get swept away, and it was hugely damaging for families. This way is less comfortable for observers, but it is healthier for everyone.

      • Guest

        The baby was born alive. How long do you have to be alive for before you get to be shared? A year? A week?

      • footnotegirl

        Why? Why is there a need to hide pain and loss and love from other people with whom you would happily share your joy? It’s not like people force strangers to watch this video, but sharing it is an important part of the grieving process, and sharing the joy that they had even in the midst of the pain is something that every parent should get to do. To insinuate that people should hide such things is a roundabout way of saying they should be ashamed.

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      What kind of asshole thinks a picture of a baby is offensive? Birth defects can be upsetting to look at, but they’re a part of life and nature and someone’s brief existence shouldn’t be considered inappropriate viewing material. These were pictures of a real person who was loved.
      Ugh, all involved in having these pictures removed have fundamental empathy issues.

    • JJ

      All I see is some beautiful photo’s of parents in a loving, vulnerable state after the birth of their child (who happens to have a condition). There is so much genuine, touching emotions in those photo’s that it deserves to be seen by people and appreciated to understand their love for their son. Some people are to darn sensitive or heartless if half naked pictures of chicks with a close up of their boobs hanging out or photos of human baby poop on facebook is okay but pictures of parents celebrating their short time with their new son is considered “inappropriate”. God forbid any of those people who complained about it should be in an accident/get ill or have a loved one in accident and have to spend the rest of their life with scarring or a medical condition that makes them not perfect looking. I wasn’t aware that only attractive, perfect healthy people are allowed to be featured on social media sites.

    • scooby23

      Ah, it’s the old-fashioned logic that only “normal” people should be looked at. We should hide the “imperfects.” No wonder so many people are so uneducated about disability. My condolences go out to the family of that sweet little boy.

    • Kheldarson

      Can’t watch-will cry at work and my baby’s at home. But Facebook needs to get a clue. And some better algorithms.

    • liz

      This made me tear up. To see these pictures of a beautiful baby with a loving family banned is heartbreaking.

    • liz
    • Amber Starr

      I haven’t ugly cried like this in a long time. That video is one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful things that I have ever seen. I checked into this and it appears that this actually happened in 2012, and after a huge outcry from the public, someone from Facebook officially apologized.
      http://www.wmctv.com/story/18567846/facebook-apologizes-to-mother-banned-for-posting-photos-of-son-with-birth-defect

    • Jen

      Could this be part of the problem? Looks like somebody was using the photos as part of a “sick baby hoax” at one point.
      http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/medical/walker.asp

    • K.

      I am so happy that they made that video. It makes me cry, but it also makes me happy to see that kind of love.

      The FB thing is bullshit. I can understand why the images might make other people uncomfortable, but the asshole thing isn’t necessarily to be uncomfortable, but to think it’s your place to tell parents that pictures of their own child are not appropriate for others to see and to fucking REPORT this.

      Judging by STFU, Parents, if I reported *actual* offensive content, like pictures of baby shit and barf, then I bet I would get an eyeful of “how DARE you object to MY baby’s output?!”

      What’s next FB? Banning pictures of every kid that was born with a cleft palate? How about the disabled?

    • Lana (Sharpest Pencil)

      This is an older story – Facebook apologised to the family back in 2012 and http://oursweetboygraysonjames.blogspot.co.nz/2012/05/much-needed-apology.html

    • Athena A

      I definitely don’t agree with Facebook randomly deleting this picture, it’s like a slap in the face for the parents, someone finds your baby offensive. I admit the picture is not an easy one to see, this is a very bad birth defect and not something you’re used to seeing. But you have to get over the shock and realise this baby was loved, in spite of how he looked, and even though he was only there for a moment he was their son and they want people to know he was there. I imagine some of her facebook ‘friends’ couldn’t get over the initial shock of how he looked and decided to make sure they wouldn’t see the picture again. Some people think ‘scary’- looking conditions like this should be hidden away, so they don’t have to be confronted with the reality of how some people don’t get to bring home a perfect baby.