The Social Media Animal Cruelty Coalition (SMACC), which includes Lady Freethinker (LFT) and numerous other animal welfare advocates, is urging the UK Parliament to crack down on animal cruelty videos as part of a proposed Online Safety Bill.
The bill, which has passed the House of Commons and is now in the committee stage in the House of Lords, aims to protect vulnerable children and adults from harmful online content. The bill also seeks to hold social media platforms — such as Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram — more responsible for their users’ safety.
But in a glaring omission, acts of intentional and likely illegal animal cruelty aren’t included as prohibited material for which platforms can be held accountable by the bill, SMACC said.
“We’re seeing far too much animal cruelty content produced specifically for sharing on social media, often for profit, including brutal beatings, animals set on fire or crushed, live burials of infant monkeys, and animals pitted against each other in staged fights,” said LFT Founder Nina Jackel. “These intentional acts of cruelty cause tremendous suffering for the sentient animals involved, and have no place on social media platforms.”
Nearly a quarter of youth aged 10 to 18 had witnessed animal cruelty or neglect on social media, according to a 2018 poll by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).
Posted videos showed physical abuse, torture, and animals burned, crushed, mutilated while alive and conscious, and sexually abused, according to SMACC research.
The harm in witnessing violent content is well documented, with some studies showing exposure can “normalize” abhorrent behavior and cause children to perpetuate abuse against animals, while other studies track violence against animals with future, or simultaneous, violence against humans by the same perpetrators.
Yet since March 2021 less than 50 percent of animal cruelty videos reported to social media platforms by the SMACC Coalition have been removed.
SMACC — along with other welfare nonprofits including World Animal Protection, the Parrot Trust, the Alliance to Counter Crime Online, and Wildlife and Countryside — have reached out to Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology Michelle Donelan to amend the bill to include acts of animal cruelty.
In a promising development, Lord Robert Wilfrid Stevenson has proposed amendments to cover animal cruelty content within the bill.
Lady Freethinker urges the Parliament to include intentional acts of animal cruelty as prohibited content within the Online Safety Bill.
People who harm animals must not profit from the pain and suffering of other sentient beings but instead must be held accountable for their heinous actions — as must be any social media platform that promotes such content.
You can help today by emailing the Secretary of State’s inboxes at [email protected] and [email protected] and letting them know that you’d like to see animal cruelty included in the UK Online Safety Bill.