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Bestiality and other animal cruelty content found on Twitter

Bestiality videos found on Twitter, depicting humans sexually abusing animals, have been removed by the platform after pressure from animal protection advocates the ‘Social Media Animal Cruelty Coalition’ (SMACC), a network of 11 animal protection organizations who aim to end animal cruelty online.

In August, eight accounts were identified by SMACC sharing bestiality content. These videos featured primarily dogs, horses, and pigs being sexually abused by humans. All were freely available to watch on Twitter with no warning on the videos of any kind.

Twitter’s own reporting tool was used by SMACC to flag the offending accounts with the platform. Initially, the coalition received a response from Twitter regarding two of the accounts, stating they did not breach Twitter policy:

After reviewing the available information, we want to let you know [account name] hasn’t broken our safety policies.

In response, SMACC, as part of the Asia for Animals Coalition, sent a joint appeal letter to the platform, directed at a range of key personnel including the CEO Parag Agrawal. The appeal letter was signed by 154 organizations. So far, Twitter has failed to respond directly to the coalition but has now removed the offending accounts.

SMACC has since located more accounts and tweets on the platform which promote bestiality.

Whilst certain pornographic content is allowed on Twitter, Twitter’s policy does not permit content which portrays “violent sexual conduct”. SMACC believes bestiality should be included in this definition. In the UK, it is illegal to possess, distribute or watch pornographic footage of bestiality. It is unclear in which countries the videos were made and uploaded, however they were available to Twitter users, of all ages, worldwide.

SMACC Lead Coordinator, Nicola O’Brien stated:

These videos showed humans sexually abusing non-human animals. This is extremely traumatic for these animals, physically and mentally, who cannot consent, and are being violated against their will. We are grateful to Twitter for finally removing such content, but this is only some of the varied animal abuse that can still be found on its platform. We have invited the company to work with us to tackle this and frustratingly, have been met with silence.

In 2021, SMACC carried out a study on the rise in animal cruelty content across social media channels. In 13 months of research, they found 5,480 individual links depicting abuses such as beating, killing, starving, teasing and mistreatment of animals. These videos had been viewed over five billion times.

Nicola continued,

“The suffering of animals for online content is a growing problem, one in which social media platforms play a significant role. They are the ones with the power to remove these harrowing videos and ban those abusing animals from their platform. Twitter has shown that it can and has taken action so we want to see them doing more to prevent animal abuse on its platform.”

SMACC has offered to work with Twitter in an effort to tackle the issue and the other types of serious animal cruelty content it says is available on the platform. SMACC is currently in conversations in this way with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.

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