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Why Re-Sharing Online Animal Cruelty Content Doesn't Help

animal cruelty monkey on bike

Sharing Isn’t Caring: Why Re-Sharing Online Animal Cruelty Doesn’t Help

At Wild Welfare, we deeply understand the frustration and distress animal lovers face when encountering animal cruelty content on social media. Whether it be videos depicting unethical practices or photos of captive wild animals kept in poor conditions, the urge to re-share disturbing content to spark outrage and raise awareness may seem like a positive action. However, the truth is, this sort of engagement, even with good intentions, can severely worsen the situation for the animals involved.

Social media platforms are fuelled by algorithms that crave engagement such as likes, shares and comments. Sharing any content, even with a condemning caption, feeds the machine. The algorithm will begin to deem the photo or video “popular”, promoting it further onto even more people’s feeds. This not only risks inspiring copycat behaviour but can also desensitise viewers over time.

Social media companies ultimately profit from the content consumed on their platforms. This is their drive for offering an endless stream of video and photo content based on what you have previously interacted with, fueling a vicious cycle that cruelty perpetuates.

And let’s not forget the toll of potential emotional damage. Witnessing animal abuse is deeply upsetting. Sharing it can further spread that negativity, causing unnecessary distress to countless others. Our empathy is a powerful tool, but it needs to be directed towards positive solutions. Sharing stories of good animal sanctuaries, responsible wildlife institutions, and the work organisations like Wild Welfare do, is a far more productive way to channel that outrage.

Bear bile farming

© Animals Asia

This kind of content can take many different forms, such as the depiction of physical harm to an animal, showing distressful conditions such as inadequate enclosures with no obvious access to food, water, or shelter. To forced animal performances that demonstrate unnatural behaviours or dangerous tricks, and even staged video rescues where animals may be purposely put in dangerous situations to fake the “rescue”, for dramatic effect.

So, what can you do as a compassionate individual to combat such content? After all, doing nothing at all may seem just as counterproductive.

Most social media platforms offer the option to report animal abuse content. Flagging a post and providing a detailed description of why the content is inappropriate can help the moderation process successfully remove offending videos or photos. Your report could be all that is needed for a platform to delete the content and potentially take further action against the perpetrators. Additionally, consider submitting the offending content to SMACC (Social Media Animal Cruelty Coalition) for further review and potential intervention. This organisation tackles animal cruelty issues by raising awareness and promoting their own online reporting system. They also aim to educate the public on how to identify and report animal abuse encountered across the internet.

Civet in cage

© The Civet Project Foundation

We would absolutely encourage you to continue spreading awareness, but in a mindful and productive manner. Share positive stories of good sanctuaries and responsible zoos that enrich the lives of their animals. Support organisations like Wild Welfare who advocate tirelessly for better captive animal welfare. Talk to your friends and family and explain why sharing abuse content isn’t helpful, encouraging them to report it and focus on positive ways to make a difference.

By taking these steps, you will be helping to protect animals and promote their well-being without amplifying negativity. Scrolling past abuse content might seem like a passive act, but it also sends a powerful message to the social media platforms.

Together, let’s create a world where all animals are treated with respect and compassion. Let your actions, not just your outrage, lead the change you wish to see in the world.

Be sure to share this blog with friends and family to help spread importance of taking the correct action next time you see animal cruelty content online. You can also follow Wild Welfare or Facebook, Instagram and X (Twitter) for even more information about animal welfare matters.

To take a deeper dive into this topic and to explore how to spot animal welfare issues online, please see our guest blog by Nicola O’Brien, Lead Coordinator of the Social Media Animal Cruelty Coalition (SMACC).


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