Published: 15:02, 06 November 2019
| Updated: 16:18, 06 November 2019
A beautician’s gesture to raise awareness of breast cancer backfired after social media giant Facebook blocked a photograph of a semi-nude model.
The website removed the posed picture on the grounds of “rules on nudity and sexual activity” and at the same time took down Medway businesswoman Gemma Cole’s business account - which she had built up over nine years reaching 4,280 followers.
After the Medway Messenger contacted the global social media platform, a spokesman said: “This account was disabled in error and has now been restored. We apologise for any inconvenience caused."
But Gemma is still unable to edit and post on her page or access followers.
Gemma, 37, fears the move has thrown her Beautiful You business, run from her home in Lordswood, into jeopardy.
Operating principally through social media, she is currently unable to contact clients, including brides who have booked wedding packages and customers who have paid deposits for treatments.
Gemma, mum to Charlie, eight, said the Facebook ban had left her “gutted and having to start from scratch”.
"You see a lot worse on Facebook and more bare boobs on beaches..." - Gemma Cole
She started up another page under a different email account and received 1,300 likes within hours from clients and even rival beauty companies.
But she said getting hold of clients gathered over nearly a decade and re-publishing reviews was proving a nightmare.
Married to ground worker Richard, 39, she said: “I thought I was doing something nice. I have lost several family members to breast cancer and I have clients who have been affected by it.
“I read up on the rules and can’t see I have done anything wrong.
“You see a lot worse on Facebook and more bare boobs on beaches which are shown in national papers.
“I wanted something tasteful and elegant and at the same time to get the message across to get women to check themselves regularly.”
Gemma hired a friend to pose, conducted the photo shoot herself, gave up a day’s takings and posted a button inviting donations for a breast cancer charity.
She said: “I got a message saying I had violated rules on Saturday while I was working on a client. I panicked and just pressed ‘appeal’. I then got rid of most of the album.
“But I was shocked to see they then got rid of my business account where I advertise my services.”
Gemma appealed twice, but was initially told her case was closed.
“When I heard Facebook had removed the post and Gemma’s page I was utterly disgusted" - Model Brittany McKenzie
Sister Danielle Cox, 40, ofSylvan Glade, Walderslade, has supported her campaign to be reinstated.
Mum-of-two Danielle said: “I don’t see why theyhad to take down her business page. Facebook is potentially closing a business.
“How can it be an error when we were told that the appeal had failed?
“I’d also like to think people would not be objecting to what is about supporting a charity that means so much to people.
“If she does get it fully restored as before, then it is 100% downto the intervention of the Medway Messenger.”
Gemma said: “This is something close to our hearts and I really wanted to do something for breast cancer awareness campaign in October. I feel tearful and overwhelmed about the support I have received.”
Brittany McKenzie, 21, who posed for the pictures, said: “As an aspiring model suffering from anxiety, I felt that this shoot not only helped raise awareness for an amazing cause, but also felt that it was good for my confidence.
“It took a lot for me to get my confidence to this level.
“When I heard Facebook had removed the post and Gemma’s page I was utterly disgusted. I felt like our efforts and time were wasted for no good reason.
“I felt furious towards the Facebook team for being so inconsiderate. Gemma worked so hard on this look and I’m honoured she chose me to be her model.”
More by this authorNicola Jordan