PHOENIX (CBS 5) - Is Facebook pulling a fast one?

Doctors and the government say breast implants are safe but tens of thousands of women who believe implants made them sick are finding each other on social media.

Now it appears Facebook may be hiding groups dedicated to breast implant illness.

Nicole Daruda is the founder of the private Facebook group: Breast Implant Illness and Healing by Nicole.

She is concerned the social media giant may be suppressing the growing movement.

Daruda says when sick women with implants find her group it can be life-changing.

[RELATED: Former Playmate of the Year on removing breast implants: 'I literally thought I was dying' (April 27, 2017)]

"They have an ah-ha moment. They are like, 'Oh my God! Finally! Ah-ha! This is finally the cause of all my symptoms,'" said Daruda.

Many of the women in the group have been searching for years, even decades, for the source of their unexplained illnesses.

Daruda's group is private because women share intimate details of sickness and recovery, often showing images of their breast that are altered to meet Facebook's standards.

[RELATED: CBS 5 Investigates: Chemist claims breast implants make some women sick]

Many share stories of doctors telling them breast implants can not cause illnesses ranging from extreme fatigue, autoimmune disorders, memory and skin issues and more.

It's common to hear from members that the information they found on social media inspired them to remove their implants.

There are now thousands of women who say they experienced dramatic health improvements after the implants were taken out.

When CBS 5 started investigating breast implant illness last year, Daruda's group had 13,000 members. As awareness grew, that number surged to 54,000.

[RELATED: CBS 5 Investigates looks into concerns that public hearings on breast implants will favor implant manufacturers]

In the last couple of months, without explanation, requests to join her group stopped.

Facebook did not shut the group down, but it does appear to be hidden.

When members of the group log in, the page looks normal.

The problem is for people who are not members.

Even if the correct name of the group is typed in the search bar, women who are not already members can not find the group to join it.

The message appears that says, "Server not found."

CBS 5 reporter Kris Pickel has heard from a number of groups dedicated to breast implant illness who say the same problem is happening to them including:

UK Breast Implant Illness and Healing Support Group, Breast Implant Illness - (Australia and New Zealand) Awareness and Support, Breast Implant Illness, Explant and Recovery, Breast Implant Lawsuits and Pursing Explantation.

This this is not Daruda's first Facebook problem.

Pickel contacted the social media giant for an explanation when they shut the group down in February of 2018.

Facebook looked into it, called it a mistake, put the group back up and sent Daruda an email saying the group, "embodies the power of our platform."

Daruda insists the content in her group has not changed and that they strictly follow Facebook guidelines.

It may be coincidence, but Daruda noticed the issue shortly after she was part of a group of women who met with the FDA in September and persuaded them to hold a public hearing on breast implants.

Daruda says members of the FDA seemed surprised when she discussed the power of social media in raising awareness and that she expected her group would hit 100,000 members next year.

Although Daruda hopes this is a mistake by Facebook, she is concerned this is an effort to stop the women's movement from gaining more members and more power in demanding more research and information on potential dangers related to breast implants.

A spokesperson for the FDA denied any connection to the groups being blocked saying, "The FDA does not play a role in how Facebook administers their groups."

At the time of this article, CBS 5 had made more than a half dozen attempts to contact Facebook.

A spokesperson said they would look into the matter but has not provided an explanation.

Award-winning journalist Kris Pickel anchors CBS 5's evening and late newscasts alongside veteran broadcaster Sean McLaughlin.


Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Recommended for you