The AfA Social Media Animal Cruelty Coalition (SMACC) today unveiled their unprecedented and groundbreaking 2021 research report into animal cruelty content on social media platforms.
Amid the age of mis- and disinformation in politics and beyond, social media has emerged as a primary source of misleading, hateful and often dangerous content. Sadly, animals have become voiceless victims of the scramble for clicks and advertising dollars as videos promoting, encouraging and profiting from their abuse run rampant. This report documents 13 months of research by volunteers into the scope of the cruelty content problem on the largest social media platforms and presents potential remedies.
The Asia for Animals (AfA) Coalition network formed the Social Media Animal Cruelty Coalition (SMACC) in 2020 to help address hundreds of enquiries its 350+ member organizations have received. Emails and calls have described appalling animal abuse, including live animal burials, the abuse of companion animals, setting animals alight and mostly recent a craze of fake rescue videos – all freely published on social media. organizations are often unable to help the individual animals involved due to lack of information about precise time or place and the fact the social media platforms themselves remain unresponsive to appeals for more detailed information. In addition, enormous resources – beyond the means of any single organization – would be needed to tackle the sheer volume of cruelty content available on these platforms.
To date, animal welfare organisations have had very little success tackling this issue and social media giants such as YouTube, Facebook and TikTok continue to let it go largely unaddressed on their platforms.
Our data solidly confirm that online animal cruelty content is a large-scale, global problem. Cruelty content has been shared on channels that have up to 45 million followers each.
Perhaps the most jaw-dropping revelation is that collectively, the approximately 5480 individual links that we have documented had been viewed 5,347,809,262 times at the time of writing. This staggering number has come at extreme cost to the animals involved - and the platforms hosting such content have profited.