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Photographer Battles Facebook Over Child’s Photo Recreating ‘Coppertone’ Ad

By Hanssie on July 8th 2014

In 1953, Coppertone released a now iconic ad which depicted a little girl at the beach getting her bathing suit bottoms pulled down by a little dog. You can see a little of her bare bottom and tan line. It was innocent, it was adorable and perfectly acceptable in the 50’s.

That was 1953. In 2014, a photo like that is considered nudity and pornography. It’s a sad world we live in.


The ad was revamped at the turn of the 21st century to show less skin and no tan line.

North Carolina mom Jill White is a professional photographer who mostly photographs children. She and her best friend took their daughters to the beach for a photo shoot. At the end of the shoot, the two 2 year old girls were playing when one of them playfully pulled down the back of the other girl’s bathing suit bottom.  Jill tells us, “My daughter passed gas and the other little girl laughed and pointed and said POOP…they are both potty training…She was checking Willa, my daughter’s, pants to see if she pooped basically. Me and my girlfriend looked at each other, thinking the same thing, and said ‘Coppertone ad!’ I picked my camera up from where I was standing and snapped a photo…just as a MOM would that wouldn’t be a photographer…

Jill posted the photo, not thinking too much of it. “I have bare bottoms from other photographers come through my feed all the time and I, myself, have posted other bare bottom photos for people….which still exist on Facebook.” Within hours, Facebook sent a notice for Jill to take down the photo or change her privacy settings. Jill ignored it as she did not feel that she had violated Facebook’s community standards policy on nudity and pornography. Her account was then frozen for 24 hours and could not access her personal page nor her photography business page.


When her account was unfrozen, she posted the photo again, this time with an emoji covering the “offensive” part.

Now, that photograph is under review, again for nudity and pornography and Jill is facing a lifetime ban. She is outraged at the double standard as she sees nudity all the time on Facebook.

A spokesperson for Facebook says, “It is hard. With over 1 billion people using Facebook we have to put in place a set of universal guidelines that respect the views of a wide range of people,” and that it was not deleted because it was considered pornography, but because it shows a child’s bare bottom.

The debate ensues with people on both sides of the camp – ones supporting Facebook for their decision to be politically correct and safe and those that think Facebook’s community policy is too subjective.

What are your thoughts?

CREDITS: Photographs by Jilly White Photography are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

[Via Fox Carolina]

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Don Burt

    Interesting story and discussion. I really do not know where our society is going. it seems that we have become paranoid about paedophilia to the extreme. How are you going to prevent paedophiles from accessing pictures of children? Are we going to ban parents from photographing their children? Parents can no longer take their cameras to many school concerts or to dancing performances. I have heard that some counsels are considering bans on taking cameras to the beach – mobile phones? Are we going to ban all children and babies in advertising? Child abuse is a crime but is a photo like this going to cause some sick person to commit a crime? I am a retired child protection officer and I have been involved in the arrest and conviction of more that one paedophile so do not think I am condoning this behaviour in any way. I do however believe that it is possible that the more you cover something up the more desirable it comes so being over protective could well be exasperating the problem. I think the picture was quite innocent and take no offence of it. Paedophiles go much further with their imagery and do not have to scan Facebook to “get their rocks off”. I believe that the fear of paedophiles is causing parents to lose their rights to enjoy their children in natural and non harmful ways. I like the phrase “There is no shame, we are all the same” (Embarrassing bodies TV show). Lets not go overboard. Even there there would be no posted photographs the paedophile will still be there. Just be careful, love your children and look after them the very best way you can – and photograph them often. They do not stay young for long.

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  2. Constance Owens

    I find this absolutely ridiculous. I recently un friended someone who re-posted a FB article about children being killed in some third world country. The photos were of little children hanging. It was atrocious! So FB can allow such horrible images but cannot allow a photo of children playing at the beach and engaging in an innocent moment of fun. I know photographers who have been banned for displaying images of mothers breast feeding. Is that pornography? People report things because of their own petty reasons. I f ind this totally ridiculous.

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  3. Dragoș Ardeleanu

    We should start posting medical articles on Facebook with the associated pictures. Wondering what would Facebook have to say to that. Who is it going to offend then? Medicine and medical articles are not about nudity, are about the science and health. And the naked human body is exactly what medicine is handling with.

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    • Nick Viton

      The same rules should apply, in your “medical images” scenario. Just because such images may not offend you or me, does not mean it won’t offend anyone. Keep in mind that not everyone has the same outlook; you get all kinds. Facebook is not a medical website.

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  4. Brian Stalter

    I, too, can see both sides of the situation. Personally, this is a photo I would only share with family and/or really close friends – and my privacy settings would reflect that. If Facebook wanted it taken down, it wouldn’t be a big deal – I could still share it via phone messaging.

    Facebook is a company that provides a service free of charge – if you don’t like their rules, don’t use their service.

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  5. The One

    She didn’t recreate the ad. To call it that is quite the stretch. All it is is one daughter pulling down the other’s bathing suit from behind and with skin over processed. Why she would want her young daughter’s crack displayed on FB for every perv to stare at while getting off I’m not sure but to expect FB to go through millions of pictures that are posted a day on a case by case basis, is ridiculous. Zero tolerance is zero tolerance be it art or some perv posting kiddie pics with a cover story. There’s no need to interpret. No guessing. No one can claim bias. That’s a very simple, non hidden rule of FB. If she wants to share her daughter’s bum in a mediocre pic on any of the other numerous outlets that allow it, she can go for it. Why fight with a site about a reasonable rule created to protect itself and it’s users? More so over a picture that, again, is a serious stretch to call art.

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    • Rob LaRosa

      Zero Tolerance policies are for bureaucrats that don’t like to think. Anyone with normal sensibilities can see this is an innocent picture. For perverts it doesn’t matter if children and fully clothed or not. They’ll use tphotos for their sick purposes regardless, so the only real defense is to not post photos of your children at all. Which is beyond ridiculous because then you’re letting someone else (real or imagined) dictate what you are putting on your FB wall.

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  6. Stan Rogers

    It’s tough from a lot of standpoints, but without hiring a few tens of thousands of reviewers I don’t see how a company like Facebook can take anything other than a “zero tolerance” stand on some things. There’s a fine line between “this is terribly cute and will likely make good ’embarrass the kid in front of their friends when they’re teenagers’ fodder” and stuff that’s posted for less-savoury reasons with similar-sounding cover stories. When you’re dealing with something like a third to a half a million photos posted *every day*, going on a photo-by-photo, case-by-case basis is utterly unreasonable. It’s not like they’ve made their stance secret or anything; the only inconsistency is the likelihood of a particular photo being picked up by the automated system (that’s a hard problem in computer science, and too many false positives would make Facebook useless as a photo sharing platform). It would appear that the previous version of the photo in question “trained” the system to recognise it again, and since it was the stated reason for the initial suspension, it’s hardly surprising that posting it again, even in modified form, was not looked upon kindly.

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  7. Tyler Friesen

    I see how that could cause a ruckus but just make her take it down and be done with it!

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  8. Leslie Troyer

    It is sad we have to dumb things down so we don’t offend the ignorant.

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    • Drew Valadez

      Completely agreed.
      Something as harmless as this is just a facepalm to me.

      As I have said before in another post about FB policies, it is baffling to me that they go around optionally silencing that which they don’t agree with. I see 2A Rights groups getting post removed and groups put on 24 freezes for content but on my same feed you can find talks and photos of ecstasy or underage drinking but nothing happens. I have seen pictures of animals abused, albeit it was sent out to warn people of the animal abuse that goes on around us, it still is posted on my facebook feed. I don’t understand how things that are legal are taken down yet things that are completely harmless, like the above picture, can be strewn into something so completely different and people are out there to make themselves offended by such post.

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