An infamous Facebook group for Upper East Side moms that has long drawn attention for all the wrong reasons, is once again in the spotlight — this time called out by mothers who felt compelled to speak up to Upper East Site about the ‘unhinged’ moderator of the ‘UES Mommas’ group, who despite being brought in to foster positivity and inclusiveness, they say is nothing more than a bully to its roughly 40,000 members — even accusing her of spying on their activity in other moms groups.
“The entire group is designed to uphold white supremacy under the cloak of being moderated by women of color,” said Danielle, one of five women who spoke candidly with Upper East Site about the toxic environment surrounding UES Mommas.
“Tiffany Ma is the gatekeeper for a very large group of women, one of the largest groups on Facebook for one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Manhattan. This puts the group in a powerful position of influence and privilege,” Danielle explained.
After receiving a tip from a subscriber in mid-February, Upper East Site began a month-long investigation into UES Mommas and would speak with five Upper East Side mothers, current or former members of the group — and one mom of color excluded entirely — who spoke on the condition of anonymity over fears of retribution by the group’s moderator Tiffany Ma, a lawyer and mother.
“That was the idea when she took over in 2020 — to promote conversations about important topics like racism and not wash over it, or have civil discussions with other points of view,” explains Jane, an Upper East Side mom who requested a pseudonym because she fears being sued by Ma for speaking publicly.
“Although, it’s a mothers’ group, there are women and parents of color who weren’t having their voices represented on important and current topics,” said Jane, a small business owner who joined the group in 2020 for networking and mothering tips when she had her first son.
Jane says she was booted from ‘UES Mommas’ after pointing out a problematic post that that could be considered offensive.
“A bit of a mean question…” the post in UES Mommas began and continued to state that an anonymous mother was feeling reticent about sharing the same stroller gloves her nanny used.
Jane says she felt the post was an “insult to injury in that some women may think their nanny is too ‘unclean’ to share stroller gloves with but not to raise their own children,” so she reached out to Ma, the moderator.
“I was told that I’m not allowed to question an admin’s decision to approve a post,” Jane told Upper East Site.
After posting about the interaction with Ma on her personal social media pages, other group members shared their support for Jane — that’s when she says she was banned from UES Mommas.
Danielle, another UES mom who was rejected membership to UES Mommas explained her similar predicament, when she tried to join the group six months ago to look for new mom friends and playdates for her then one-year-old son.
“Tiffany Ma refused my request because I wouldn’t send her a copy of his birth certificate and a picture of us on the day he was born in the hospital,” Danielle stated incredulously.
“I don’t post him on social media to protect his privacy and so he has the choice when he’s older and so I’m certainly not going to send a stranger a picture and his private legal documents.”
Danielle went on to explain that Ma then accused her of wanting to use the group to spam the ‘high profile moms’ and market herself professionally.
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“She has absolutely no idea what I do. I’m a partner in a multi-million-dollar yoga brand out of Nashville and have a real estate license to find us property here,” Danielle explained, “I didn’t have a single intention using the group as anything other than friendship with some fellow moms.”
Shocked, she says she posted about this dilemma on another moms group and more than 300 people reached out.
“People who responded to my post about UES Mommas were all kicked out of UES Mommas if they commented negatively,” she explained, “[Tiffany] has spies.”
Jane agrees, telling us that Ma “has people on other groups or fake accounts spying to see who is ‘against’ her and removing them [from UES Mommas] without notice as well.”
“Tiffany and the other admin who took over became more and more strict and less diplomatic with basis of discussions,” Jane continued, “Their conversations in FaceBook messenger with many women became unhinged and very — just strange.”
“It appears these women have never been in any position of power in their lives and are utilizing a mommy Facebook group to exercise some sort of control, by limiting conversations or topics that don’t directly impact their personal agendas or completely banning any topic that they personally don’t agree with,” Jane explains.
Making it seem more figurative fight club than nurturing parenting group, one of the primary rules of UES Mommas is also the first rule of Fight Club, which is to not speak about the group. According to Ma, that includes discussing the group outside the group or with non-members, as is speaking to the press.
“We do not discuss group administration off the group and our posts are not for public discussion outside the group,” Ma told Upper East Site.
But that isn’t the only rule.
“The admins are instilling new rules almost weekly, which are impossible to keep up with because no busy mom on the UES is reading every new rule, including rules that apparently don’t allow anyone to question any admin decisions — even if a post they allow is highly inflammatory,” Jane says.
When Upper East Site reached out to Ma to ask her about the latest scandal she initially said, “No comment” but then immediately began offering up corrections and commentary over the course of several direct messages and emails.
Ma was quick to mention she had a team of lawyers and agents, but it appears that none had properly prepped her for conversations with journalists, which are always considered to be ‘on the record’ unless an agreement is reached with the reporter prior to divulging any information.
No such agreement was ever requested. When informed of this, Tiffany Ma threatened Upper East Site with a lawsuit — a crystal clear example of the retribution these women fear.
Ma went on to explain that membership into the group was merely that one be a Tri-state area-based mom.
However, proving one meets those requirements is on a “case-by-case basis”, admitting sometimes she does request sonograms, Zoom interviews, pictures of the child or proof of school attendance for entry.
“Proof of motherhood and residence is not based on ‘testimony,’” she explains. “There is not a one size fits all [sic].”
Ma also explained that she has strict entrance requirements “given the number of advertisers, fraud agents, and people soliciting and taking personally identifiable information and the size of this group that makes it attractive to those categories of people/bots, we have to check.”
While the group is private and allowed to have its own rules, some feel these are both over-the-top and arbitrary.
Tiffany countered by comparing UES Mommas to an educational institution, “Just like the DOE or private schools, we verify that someone is a mother and in New York.”
Parental status and address aside, she says, “We are also evaluating a person’s willingness to be vetted and part of a community and transparency with the admins, and acceptance of our rules.”
When asked about rules of conduct to remain in the group, Ma explains that if a person is seen as disrespectful of another member’s post and refuses to be respectful after a warning, they are removed from the group.
“The admin and 10 lawyers advising this group have significant training in fairness, equity and ethics,” claims Ma.
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Other moms, both still in the group and some previously ousted, disagree.
Ellen, an UES mom of two teens and communications pro said she was aware of the toxicity involved with the group, particularly since Ma became a prominent admin. As such she feels lucky her kids are older so she doesn’t need to rely on posting in the group for tips.
“If I do need information I will post on MUES,” Ellen explained, describing Moms of the Upper East Side, a similar-minded, but reportedly kinder and better managed Facebook group for moms boasting 20,000 members.
Edith, a native New Yorker and mother to a six-year-old son said she left UES Mommas this year because of what she feels is a toxic tone of the admins.
“The admins there are bullies,” she explains, saying this is the exact behavior she is trying to teach her son not to ever engage in. She too, says she now relies on personal interactions with mothers in her neighborhood or will post on MUES if she needs more far-ranging advice.
“In the other group I am part of, only one mom has come to Tiffany’s defense, which I found to be incredibly strange — defending someone who is clearly a bully,” explains Danielle.
Eve, another Upper East Side mother who spoke under the condition of anonymity, also agreed that Tiffany is a bully and shared a similar story with us. She was a long-standing member of the UES Mommas group until she “saw someone post about a babysitter, accusing her of potential child abuse or neglect.”
“I politely stated that it was a problematic practice, because you’re putting someone in danger when you’re accusing them of a crime with their picture attached, and you don’t know the context,” Eve explained to Upper East Site.
“Suddenly I found myself removed from the group.”
When Eve questioned the admin, “At first, she lied and said I was not deleted.”
“I was, in fact, deleted, but I believe when they realized the reason they deleted me could be troublesome, they added me back in,” explains Eve.
Her identity was then called into question.
Eve says Tiffany then told her, “You can set up a Zoom call with me where your child can be brought in from the background and we will need your full name, legal address, your child’s name, and where your child goes to school.”
Eve complied but still wasn’t allow in the group.
“My feeling is that she realized my removal was not actually an any violation of any rules, put me back in, and then tried to remove me by asking me for a bunch of documentation I’d be incredulous to hear I had to produce.”
While it may seem many moms want to put Ma in a time-out, Ma — who has a surname that seems perfect to run a mother’s group — tells Upper East Site, “There are maybe a dozen unhappy and then 40,000 that will disagree.”
Even Jane agrees that alleged admin toxicity aside, the group itself has done many positive things for the UES mom community as well.
“I’ve seen them connect women with doctors and lawyers, give parenting advice and raise money for important charities and fundraisers,” explains Jane.
“Members have rallied around moms in need.”
Editor’s Disclosure: Upper East Site has made this story available to all readers, regardless of subscription status, in an effort to be fully transparent about our processes.
Nearly three weeks into our investigation, on March 3rd, we became aware of a post in the UES Mommas group critical of an unrelated article by another reporter, as well as our social media team.
In a strongly-worded email on March 16th, Tiffany Ma threatened to sue Upper East Site over “bias,” claiming that we were “targeting” her because “there are several complaints about your paper on the [UES Mommas] page, well documented and about [the author of the unrelated article].”
The facts dispel Ma’s allegations, as our investigation began on February 13th, following a tip from a subscriber sent weeks prior to the critical post. Additionally, the author of this article is unconnected to the criticism.
Upper East Site strictly adheres to a comprehensive ethics policy, published on our website, that requires these important details be disclosed because they may validly affect a reader’s judgment of our credibility.
Mom was right, honesty is the best policy.
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Everything is true. Ma is a little too full of herself. She makes the rules but then allows special folks to break them. I’m pretty sure she has some sort of identity crisis and too much time on her hands. But she has full time help. I wonder if she’s still looking for a suit for her two year old daughter…