As a founding member of the Social Media Animal Cruelty Coalition (SMACC), Lady Freethinker has contributed to a new report that shines light on the horrific reality for macaques who are kept as “pets” for online views.

The Cruelty You Don’t See: The Suffering of Pet Macaques for Social Media Content,” a new report compiled by a coalition of 20 animal protection organizations including LFT, documents evidence of content creators openly abusing monkeys and then posting the videos on social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube.

Between September 2021 and March 2023, SMACC recorded 1,226 content links from Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube that show macaques being kept as “pets,” with content ranging from seemingly “innocent” treatment to violent and graphic torture of macaques.

Videos collectively had over 12 billion views, with 60 percent of the videos showing overt physical abuse to the animals. Macaques were being physically tortured — including to the death, by beating, being burned alive, or having limbs amputated — in 12 percent of the videos.

Many of the other videos show baby macaques dressed in clothing or wearing diapers, with some videos reaching millions of views and attracting comments on how “cute” and “entertaining” the content was. In reality, this treatment of macaques is unnatural and causes long-lasting physical and psychological damage. 

Another layer of cruelty is that the abused macaques often are infants who were ripped from their parents and sold as “pets,” with some of the macaques in the videos only a few days old.

LFT had previously published an investigation showing horrific abuse endured by infant monkeys kept as “pets” in Cambodia, and this new SMACC report re-emphasizes the need for social media platforms to remove content that facilitates cruelty to animals.

“Macaques, who are often just days old when they’re ripped from their mothers and sold as ‘pets,’ are denied everything that is natural to them when they’re kept in human homes,” said LFT President and Founder Nina Jackel. “Online videos showing these non-domesticated animals treated like human infants are not only far from ‘cute,’ but they also help fuel the wildlife trade and cause immense suffering for these complex and sensitive beings. We urge everyone to never interact with videos depicting macaques as ‘pets’ and to inform others of the hidden cruelty.”  

Lady Freethinker is reminding everyone that by liking, sharing, or commenting on these videos – even to raise awareness of express frustration – people are inadvertently supporting the abuse by helping to add views and visibility. It’s important to never engage with these videos and always report any videos showing cruelty to animals using the platform’s online reporting system.

You can read the full report here.