Animals are being teased and tortured on video in a growing social media trend, an animal welfare coalition has found.
The Asia for Animals Social Media Animal Cruelty Coalition (SMACC) released a report on July 5, which revealed that between February and May 2022, 200 videos showing teasing tortured animals were shared on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Youtube.
The “Teasing as Torture” report is the first in a series of SMACC Spotlight reports on topics of animal cruelty on social media.
The coalition also reported that macaque monkeys featured in 69% of the videos, making them the most popular victims of this type of torture.
The videos recorded by the coalition included “many forms of teasing” which caused the animals psychological distress and physical harm. One such video showed a group of crying baby monkeys being starved.
Another showed a rat that had been tied to a cat’s paw with string – people filmed as the two animals showed signs of “extreme distress”, before the rat was killed.
Videos also showed people spraying lemon juice on animals and scaring them by making loud noises and wearing disturbing masks.
Other baby macaques were also filmed wearing restrictive clothing that prevented them from walking. In the video, people film as they offer food to the monkeys they couldn’t reach because of the clothes.
Animal cruelty content is banned on all social media platforms.
YouTube’s violent and graphic content policy states that “violent or gory content intended to shock or disgust viewers, or content that encourages others to commit violent acts” is not permitted on the platform.
Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, says, “Videos showing humans killing animals if there is no explicit context of manufacturing, hunting, food consumption, processing, or preparation,” are prohibited. as well as videos of animal-to-animal fights and “humans committing acts of torture or abuse against live animals.”
TikTok also prohibits content that depicts “the slaughter or other unnatural death of animals, dismembered, mutilated, charred, or burned animal remains, animal cruelty, and gore.”
If social media platforms see a creator violating content guidelines, the video is removed.
A Meta spokesperson said Newsweek“We don’t allow posts that depict animal cruelty on our platforms and remove them when we find them. If people see this content, we encourage them to report it using our platforms’ tools, so that our teams can investigate and act.”
Newsweek contacted TikTok and YouTube for comment.
Every day, 720,000 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. On Instagram, 95 million photos and videos are shared every day.
This is not the first time this issue has been raised.
Many videos of people torturing animals have surfaced on video-sharing platforms in recent years, with many staying live for months, gaining many views and interactions.
The SMACC says social media platforms are not doing enough to remove these videos.
The coalition is working with Meta to combat the rise of animal cruelty content on the platforms. The coalition said it hopes its advice will trigger “swift action” from Meta. However, following a 2021 report from the coalition, which revealed a growing number of flourishing animal content videos, social media platforms have so far “taken little action”.
“SMACC has yet to receive a response from all but one of the companies and the coalition says that even ensuring dialogue with the platforms has been extremely difficult,” SMACC said in a press release.
“Social media giants cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the sadistic animal abuse messages being shown on their platforms,” said Alan Knight, president of International Animal Rescue, a member organization of the coalition, in a statement. A press release. “Whether intentionally or not, a vast global audience is perpetuating the cruelty by viewing, liking and sharing these videos and it must stop!
“Using teasing as a form of torture as described in this report is absolutely repugnant and most people would find the videos unbearable to watch. It is unacceptable for Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube to abdicate responsibility on this issue,” says Knight. “Animals are deliberately tortured and even killed for human entertainment and those who can do something to stop it have a moral duty to do so, sooner rather than later.”
Update 07/05/22, 04:11 ET: This article has been updated with comment from a Meta spokesperson.