Thursday, February 2, 2012

Edith Kernerman, IBCLC, President and Executive Director, International Breastfeeding Centre Clinic Director, Newman Breastfeeding Clinic, Ontario Lactation Consultants Association

President and Executive Director, International Breastfeeding Centre
Clinic Director, Newman Breastfeeding Clinic

1255 Sheppard Avenue East
Toronto, ON, Canada, M2K 1E2
416-498-0002, phone 416-498-0012, fax
Open Letter to Facebook

February 2nd, 2012

Dear Facebook Management,

As the Executive Director at the International Breastfeeding Centre I have the privilege of working with healthcare professionals, med students, midwifery, nursing and lactation students from all around the world. As President of the Ontario Lactation Consultants Association, I have the privilege of representing over 1000 lactation consultants in our fair province. In these capacities I write to you appalled at FB's blatant disregard for human rights in Canada. I had understood FB to be a company with a vision, with integrity, with courage. By allowing its employees to remove breastfeeding photos posted by FB users FB is discriminating against women and infringing upon their rights to free speech and free expression. This is not courageous—this is cowardly. As well, in suspending accounts, and sending bullying threats to its consumers, FB is sending a clear message to the public that though breastfeeding is protected under our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, FB doesn't care about these rights.

For a moment though, I would like to talk to you not as a breastfeeding advocate, nor as a mother of 3 breastfed children (one of whom is a newborn currently still breastfeeding); not as an educator in the field of lactation medicine, nor an author of numerous protocols used worldwide in hospitals and birthing centres; not as an international speaker; not even as a blogger, researcher, or employer. Instead, I would like to speak to you as an investor.

It is as an investor where I am just as appalled: FB stocks are going public. Congratulations to a company that has seen an unprecedented growth in such a short time, a company whose future and stability look very attractive. But there is a little glitch that concerns me greatly: you can't seem to keep control of your employees. How well can a company be run if its employees exercise their own powers by voicing opinions on the public stage, within the FB product, that is in direct opposition to the vision and direction of the company? This is unimaginable for a corporation going public. If FB employees are going rogue without any repercussions then this is not a company I would be interested in investing my money. The fact that FB cannot keep a handle on the discriminatory and unfair hurtful practices of its employees who disregard and disrespect the human rights of Canadians is of real concern. Add that this discriminatory behaviour hurts women and children and I am sure my FB and Twitter friends, Blog readers, and over 1 million website users would agree.

Banning breastfeeding photos was yesterday's bad idea. Such superficial pseudo-puritanical behaviour flies in the face of everything FB has shown itself to represent. Smarten up FB. Get a hold of your staff, do some house cleaning and have the courage of your publicly-stated convictions to get current. Stand behind the apology you made to Emma Kwasnica, reinstate all FB accounts and photos and ensure such foolish and costly actions never happen again.

In so doing you will show Canadians you are a company of integrity and responsibility and one worth investing in.


Edith Kernerman, IBCLC, NBCI
President, OLCA CANADA

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