When I think of social media, I think of somewhere to connect with my friends or like-minded people, but it seems there are a growing number of social media users who are there for nefarious purposes. From the basic trolls through to creators sharing videos of extreme animal abuse on social media for likes and money.
Having recently worked with The Vegan Agenda on their new blog and social media content, we have seen the awful side of this in greater depth. Platforms like TikTok and YouTube have a responsibility to remove graphic content such as this from their platform and certainly shouldn’t allow the creators to monetise these accounts.
The Social Media Animal Cruelty Coalition (SMACC) conducted research that found 5,480 individual animal cruelty videos on YouTube, Facebook and TikTok between July 2020 and August 2021. These had been viewed 5,347,809,262 times collectively. Over three-quarters of these videos were severe in nature and clearly intentional acts of cruelty such as burning live animals.
I can’t imagine the sort of people that want to view these things; I certainly couldn’t. The fact that the creators are able to monetise them and get a large number of views means they are profiting from torture and cruelty. This sort of behaviour takes us one step closer to dystopian fiction such as The Hunger Games. Death Race and Battle Royale.
Videos include an array of animals being abused, from snakes to monkeys, birds, kittens and dogs. It’s estimated that in the last three months, creators of such content have earned £15 million, with YouTube taking a cut of £8.8m themselves. The majority of this cruelty happens in real-time on live streams.
Shockingly the UK comes third in the list of countries uploading this animal abuse on social media. While Youtube has the most videos of this cruelty available on its platform, Facebook is a hotbed for it, with groups dedicated to sharing this disturbing content. Instagram and TikTok have their own fair share of this content too.
While we appreciate that social media companies have an endless job taking down content, AI is becoming smart enough to analyse many of these things and at least flag them for human approval. Live streams are probably far more challenging to discover and rely on people reporting them to the platforms. Still, this review process can be slow, meaning the streams have probably ended before the social media company even checks it.
Alan Knight, chief executive of International Animal Rescue, said: “It is inexcusable for social media companies to turn a blind eye to the sickening scenes of animal abuse posted on their platforms. It is their moral responsibility to crack down on content showing animals forced to suffer for entertainment and financial gain.
“There’s no doubt these media corporations have the power to remove these vile videos, and it’s reprehensible that they haven’t done so already.
“They feed the basest instincts of a depraved minority and must be denied a platform and an audience to stamp them out.”
There will always be people looking to use the internet and asocial media channels with illicit priorities, but this is the lowest of the low. Having only seen a few stills of the content, I feel physically sick. We won’t even include them in this content. Distributing them makes us somehow complicit; they need to be erased.
Social media companies have come under fire for allowing people to rig elections, get out terrorist messages and now this. Somehow, they need to work on identifying and removing this content and blocking the posters, emails, IP addresses etc., making it more difficult for them to bypass security in future.
As with any criminal act, there will always be work arounds, but it’s worrying that this is something millions of people have viewed and condoned. Are we that desensitised to violence that we need to torture innocent animals for entertainment now? Animal abuse on social media must end! You can sign the petition here.