Facebook rules let animal abuse slip through the net

Sarah Moyes's avatar
Sarah Moyes
22 May 2017

Scrolling through your newsfeed on Facebook is something that we all do multiple times a day, but did you know that Facebook’s lack of a robust policy on animal abuse means that horrifying images and videos can make their way onto your timeline?

The Guardian revealed today that Facebook’s policies on issues such as graphic violence and animal abuse are simply not clear enough. One on hand, the company wants to remain open, but on the other, it does not want to tolerate abuse on its site. This blurry line between what’s acceptable and what’s not is leaving moderators of the social media giant struggling to decide what’s right.

According to a Facebook moderation manual, “[Facebook] allows photos or videos documenting animal abuse for awareness” and will only mark images as disturbing if they include extremely disturbing material. One category that comes under disturbing material is animal mutilations, but hunting and fishing are listed as notable exceptions of this rule. However, I’m sure the millions of people who are against any kind of animal hunting would argue that hunting is animal abuse and do not want to see it anywhere on their Facebook timeline.

This isn’t the first time the animal abuse on Facebook has been highlighted. A few years ago, we saw a huge rise in cases of abuse through the online drinking game Neknominate. The craze, which was facilitated by Facebook, saw people posting videos of themselves completely a variety of tasks. Many of the tasks included animal abuse with one of the more popular ones seeing people swallow goldfish.

So, what can we do about it?

Firstly, Facebook should do what it can to prevent any kind of animal abuse, but we need to keep the pressure up by reporting anything we see. Animal cruelty is cruelty wherever it is taking place. Just because these images appear on Facebook does not mean that they are acceptable in any way. Here’s what you can do if you come across any posts you are concerned about:

1. Report it to the police – If you see any photos or videos where you think a crime against an animal has been committed then we urge you to contact the police.

2. Report it to Facebook – Use the report button on Facebook to alert the site to any content that shows animals being abused. You can also choose to hide the post and any future posts from that user from your own timeline

3. Contact OneKind – If you have complained about animal abuse shown on Facebook or other social media sites then we'd love to hear from you. Please email us on info@onekind.org or call us on 0131 661 9734.

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