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Cancer Survivors Work with Facebook: Some Mastectomy Pictures Allowed

Update Date: Jun 13, 2013 11:42 AM EDT

Facebook, one of the biggest and most influential social media sites, started off as a website for sharing photos between friends and families and reconnecting people. Facebook has now transformed to a place where people can share and educate others about topics ranging from health to politics. Despite this fact, Facebook was in the middle of a controversy after it removed four pictures of naked breast cancer survivors and banned David Jay, the photographer in charge of the SCAR Project, for one month. However, after filing a petition, Facebook has released a statement explaining how the pictures could have been taken down by accident and that mastectomy scars displayed in the pictures are important.

The SCAR Project is a series of photographs of breast cancer survivors who have undergone mastectomies in order to survive. The pictures are meant to be an inspiration as well as a way for the survivors to tell their stories. Some of the pictures ended up on Facebook where 53-year-old Scorchy Barrington, a breast cancer patient, saw one. Once Barrington, who is from New York, found out that Facebook censored some of the photos as well as the photographer, she filed a petition via

Facebook then published a formal statement writing that the photos were valuable and that they did comply with most of the website's policies. According to the statement, Facebook explained that it could have removed a mastectomy picture "by mistake" since the website reviews over millions of content every day.

Barrington, who worked with Jay on the petition, was glad to see Facebook respond quickly. She stated that Facebook was very easy to work with and that the website was not as intimidating as she feared it would be. Barrington is now optimistic that the tides have turned for breast cancer awareness. She believes that these pictures could be more effective in telling the story of a breast cancer survivor.

Barrington said, reported by the Chicago Tribune, "there are more people out there saying, look, what I have, it's life-changing. It's life and death in some cases. It's not a pink ribbon, it's not a pink mixer, it's not a pink coke can. This is really life and death."

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