Recently, animal rights nonprofit organisation (NPO) Lady Freethinker filed a lawsuit against YouTube as the platform reportedly failed to remove videos of animal abuse, as per the New York Times. In 2020, the charity urged YouTube to take down 2,000 videos that collectively gathered a total of 1.2 billion views but Nina Jackel, the founder of Lady Freethinker, stated that approximately 70% of the videos are still on the website. Jackal also shared that the NPO has been asking YouTube to address animal abuse on its platform for 18 months.
Aside from that, research conducted by the Asia for Animals Social Media Animal Cruelty Coalition found 5,480 individual links to animal cruelty videos between July 2020 and August 2021. These videos were posted on social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok and YouTube and collectively recorded over 5.3 billion views.
We did our own investigation on all the popular social media platforms and we did not find any serious animal abuse videos but we did spot a lot of animal prank videos. Some of them can be quite disturbing to watch, especially if you are an animal lover. Here's what we found.
On YouTube, we saw several animal prank videos such as those involving pet owners scaring their pets with cucumbers and with people dressed up in scary costumes. There are even clips of people doing the "Invisible Challenge" with their pets, where pet owners lead their dog or cat to a doorway covered in saran wrap to see how it would react to the wrap. Some animals did not notice the wrap and head straight into it, while others play around with it. It's worth noting that this challenge started on Twitter.
When it comes to TikTok, we saw multiple challenges involving people playing loud sounds to shock their pets. For example, user @ernz88 shared a video of someone blasting an air horn in front of a dog. Aside from that, there's the "Put Your Dog On a Diet" challenge, where people give their dog a small amount of food to see how it would react.
Another series of videos involve people trying to trick their dogs into thinking that their treats are deadly. They do this by controlling a stuffed animal to make it look like it's eating the dog treats and then dropping the stuffed toy to the ground.
On Facebook, there are several prank videos as well such as one showing a person scaring a monkey with a stuffed tiger and another where an individual dresses up as an animal to get a reaction out of a dog.
Since the animal cruelty law differs from one country to another, it may be hard for social media platforms to determine the seriousness of abuse depicted in these animal videos and warrant a removal.
Do you consider these viral videos an abuse of animals? Do you think social media companies should take down such videos? Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook page.
Written by Sophia Lopez