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Reporting animal cruelty content matters - part 2

This blog is part of a series of blogs on why reporting matters. You can read part 1 here.

It is vital to rethink how reporting works and what it achieves: if you are expecting short-term results (the platform removing the content after your individual report), you might be disappointed. But reporting helps tackle the issue in the long-term, and this is where we see results.

Instead of seeing reporting as an immediate solution and being frustrated from the immediate platform’s feedback, let’s refocus our understanding of what reporting means in the bigger picture and what it is set to achieve.

Let’s not forget that there are millions of social media users and that by unifying your voice, significant and long-lasting change can be achieved. However, such goals can only be achieved through common strategies and actions.

Now, let’s go back to our scenario:

You have seen an animal cruelty video, you have reported it, and you feel disgust and anger. Why are some people so cruel? Do people not realize this is animal cruelty?

After reporting, your second instinct is to then comment on the video: This is not cute! This is cruel! This is horrible! Please do not support this page!

You are hoping that people will read your comment and learn that such content is not okay, that behind what looks ‘cute’ is a lot of cruelty, or that people might then question what they are seeing.

We understand the urge to comment, educate but also voice your frustration and horror after seeing such content. Seeing animal cruelty on social media is a deeply upsetting experience, for yourself, for the animals suffering injustice, for the consequences it might have on other animals, and for children or vulnerable adults that might come across such content.

However, we must think of what interacting with such content actually means. When we look at how social media works, it is very simple: it’s a numbers game.

The more views a post gets, the more it is boosted.

The more likes/reactions a post gets, the more it is boosted.

The more comments a post gets, the more it is boosted.

The more shares a post gets, the more it is boosted.

Some studies have shown that commenting can in some cases educate users and that the messaging in comments can become increasingly factual and educational, with a stronger tendency to promote animal conservation. However, this is not always the case and these comments are not a deterrent for social media content creators, who, despite these encouraging comments, do not reduce the number of videos they will produce and post on social media in order to make a profit.

The platforms do not filter whether the comment or the reaction shows anger or enjoyment. So by commenting on these videos, by watching the videos, by reacting or even sharing, you are contributing to making the posts more visible, and thus more popular. And this is the opposite of what you are trying to achieve!

Is it true that some people can learn from social media and that people can learn from comments and opinions shared. However, when it comes to animal cruelty content, we really discourage engaging at all. Chances are that few people will actually be receptive to your comment, you might become the target of violent online attacks, and you might actually become instrumental in helping some people make a lot of money…

Read more about why reporting matters here: Reporting matters | SMACC

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