SMACC- Report 2021
A recent report by SMACC (Social Media Animal Cruelty Coalition) documents how animal cruelty is being promoted.
Videos on the social media platforms TikTok, YouTube and Facebook were analyzed for 13 months.
Perhaps the most amazing revelation is that the approximately 5,480 individual videos that were documented were viewed a total of 5,347,809,262 times at the time the report was written.
89.2% of them were hosted on Youtube because they are easier to find there.
In one of the many staged animal rescue videos on YouTube, a dark tiger python wraps around a gibbon.
The great ape is freed by a man who appears at the scene with a video camera, apparently “by chance”.
This staggering number is associated with extreme agony for the animals concerned – and the platforms that host such content have benefited by millions, according to the report.
The data clearly confirm that online content that is cruel to animals is a major global problem.
The five most commonly shown animal species were birds of various species, dogs and cats, wildlife, snakes, and primates.
Social Media Animal Cruelty Coalition (SMACC)
In 2020, founded the Asia for Animals (AfA) network – SMACC – to answer the hundreds of inquiries its member organizations have received.
The main SMACC organizations include: Action for Primates, AnimalsAsia Foundation, Humane Society International, PETA Asia and World Animal Protection.
E-mails and phone calls described horrific animal cruelty to organizations, including the burial of live animals, the mistreatment of companion animals, the setting on fire and the recent fake rescue videos – all posted freely on social media.
According to the SMACC report, the videos found on social media platforms showed animals being drowned, broken limbs, and even how mothers were killed and their babies stolen from them.
The report states that “animals have become silent victims of the hunt for clicks and advertising dollars as videos promoting, encouraging, and benefiting from their abuse become rampant”.
The hunting videos regularly feature foxes, hundreds of species of birds and wild boar, as well as animal fights.
Of the 5,480 videos that were recorded, 2,634 were assigned to the topic of “hunting”. These videos often show protracted deaths, extreme suffering, and both legal and illegal hunting methods used by the hunters.
The availability of thousands of hunting videos on social media platforms encourages this cruelty.
It is actively encouraged and normalized while the activity is being sold as “fun and exciting” and at an extreme cost to the wildlife.
The report quotes Nick Stewart, World Animal Protection’s Global Head of Wildlife Campaigns, as saying, “Wild animals are not props, toys, or entertainers; they are sentient beings with a right to life.”
Adam Parascandola of Humane Society International said, “The devastating data uncovered by this research only scratches the surface to reveal the shocking levels of animal cruelty on social media.”
Fake Animal Rescue Videos
This is cruelty to animals in its worst form, which is staged for “entertainment”, misleads many viewers and inflicts unspeakable suffering on the animals.
“Social media giants like YouTube, which have billions of followers, have a clear responsibility to ensure that animal cruelty does not find an audience,” added Nick Stewart.
So far, animal welfare organizations have had little success fighting animal cruelty videos posted on YouTube, Facebook and TikTok.
The coalition added that animal welfare organizations are unable to help individual animals seen in videos of animal cruelty because they often have no information about the time or location.
At the same time, it would take enormous resources beyond the capabilities of any single organization to deal with the sheer volume of gruesome content on these platforms.
“Our latest investigation has exposed the shocking scale of fake animal rescue videos appearing on YouTube showing animals in dire situations that are visibly distressed and traumatized”.
SMACC also indicated that the issue was not addressed on these platforms.
In its report, the SMACC appealed to YouTube, Facebook and TikTok to “lead by example and take decisive action to remove cruel content once and for all”.
They urged social media platforms to share their vision of a responsible and friendly world where such cruelty does not occur on social media or in real life.
They also appealed to social media users not to view, share, or engage with such content.
Some information on the topic …A few years ago, animal welfare groups became aware of the videos showing staged animal rescues.
Their number and popularity on YouTube has grown rapidly since then.
They all show variations on the same theme: an eagle attacks a snake, a crocodile a duck, snakes attack domestic cats, dogs, lizards.
But no matter what the constellation looks like: Just before the confrontation can take a fatal turn, a person happens to appear and intervene to save them.
What you don’t see in the published versions of the videos are the injuries and deaths of the abused animals.
What drives people to put animals in such situations?
The answer is simple: clicks and lots of money.
“A post that is viewed millions of times on YouTube has the potential to bring the creator thousands of dollars,” said Jason Urgo, CEO of Social Blade, a company that compiles statistics for social networks.
Opening a YouTube channel and sharing videos on it is easy and possible for everyone.
However, a user is only entitled to participate in the YouTube partner programs, in which one actually earns money through advertisements, under certain conditions: his channel must have generated several thousand subscribers and at least 4,000 hours of viewing time in the past year.
YouTube’s Community Guidelines prohibit “violent or bloodthirsty content intended to shock or disgust viewers.”
According to YouTube, more than nine million videos that violated community guidelines were removed from January 2021 to March 2021.
But the review process is laborious, cumbersome and not stringent, reported current and former employees of the “Washington Post”.
In March 2021, YouTube announced that it would begin removing staged animal rescue videos in the next few weeks.
Several hundred posts have since been removed, according to Lady Freethinker, a California animal welfare non-profit organization. Hundreds of others could still be called up.
In 2020 Lady Freethinker took a closer look at YouTube in this regard. As part of a three-month research, the team began by entering common search terms such as “dog fight”, “cockfight” and “monkey torture” on the platform.
After the videos were viewed, YouTube’s algorithm suggested similar content.
In this way, the Lady Freethinker team found 2,000 videos in which they believe animals are deliberately harmed. Some were posed animal rescue videos – a total of 40 million views.
After The Guardian and other media reported on Lady Freethinker’s investigation and YouTube sent the URLs of the problem videos, they were removed from the platform.
According to Nina Jackel, President of Lady Freethinker, this is not always the case.
For those who want to put an end to this cruelty to animals, however, it is very important to know the locations, says Nina Jackel.
“This is the only way for the authorities to take action.” It is just as important to know the owners of the channels.
“These are the people who get money from Google when they participate in affiliate programs. And they get some kind of fame through the videos. People love attention; it is a motivator that should not be underestimated, ”says Jackel.
“That means: Even if they don’t make any money with the videos, they may still continue because they have achieved a certain level of awareness on YouTube with animal cruelty”
Users who come across videos with cruel and torturous content should still report them to YouTube and under no circumstances share them.
In the upper right corner of each video there is a button behind which the “Report” option is hidden. If you select these, you can then – even more specifically – refer to “violent content” and then to “cruelty to animals”.
My best regards to all, Venus