Facebook refuses to remove 'horrible animal cruelty' video

·Environment Editor
·4-min read

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Facebook has refused to remove footage experts say depicts “horrible” animal cruelty, because it doesn’t violate the company’s guidelines.

Watched more than 5.5 million times, the video appears to be what’s known as a “fake animal rescue”.

For more than four minutes a monkey can be seen struggling to free its body from a hole cut into a branch.

Facebook has refused to remove a video which experts say depicts a 'fake animal rescue'. Source: Facebook
Facebook has refused to remove a video which experts say depicts a 'fake animal rescue'. Source: Facebook

A small dog then uses its jaws to grab the trapped animal by the head and neck, eventually pulling it free.

Four Paws International’s Sarah Ross is an expert in fake animal rescue videos and spoke to Yahoo News Australia from Germany, calling it a “really horrible video”.

“The monkey could not get in that situation by himself… he’s been stuffed in there and the person holding the camera is just filming it,” she said.

Comments selected by Facebook as “most relevant” also slam the video as a set-up, calling for those responsible to be arrested for animal cruelty.

“These cruel videos don't just happen. They are staged for human entertainment,” one comment reads.

“Absolutely disgusting,” someone else wrote.

Facebook slammed for refusal to remove 'animal cruelty' video

While the video has been reported by multiple users of the platform for depicting animal cruelty, Facebook has refused to remove the video.

Despite having a policy requiring an onscreen warning with the depiction of humans committing acts of torture or abuse against live animals, the company maintains there is no clear evidence a human was behind the situation depicted in the video.

Experts believe the monkey is experiencing distress. Source: Facebook
Experts believe the monkey is experiencing distress. Source: Facebook

Contacted by Yahoo News Australia on Tuesday, Facebook’s parent company Meta declined to provide comment about its decision.

Their lack of action has been criticised by World Animal Protection’s country director Ben Pearson who accused the company of avoiding their duty of care in a way he said is “appalling and irresponsible” given their “power and reach”.

He has urged Facebook to “step up” and publicly share their strategies and plans to prevent animal cruelty videos being uploaded.

“Other social media companies have done the right thing and introduced policies to ensure they are not contributing to animal cruelty,” he said.

Ms Rees seconded his call for Facebook to take the video down, saying the monkey is clearly in distress.

She said their decision not to act “makes no sense” as it depicts animal cruelty inflicted by a human.

Welfare group's fake animal rescue video warning

Mr Pearson said the video on Facebook is a clear example of how genuine animal videos “are being hijacked”.

By preying on the compassion of viewers who don’t recognise the videos have been set up, social media users can unwittingly contribute to the popularity of “abusive material”.

Facebook, founded by billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, said the video does not breach its guidelines. Source: Getty
Facebook, founded by billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, said the video does not breach its guidelines. Source: Getty

“In this instance, it’s clear that this terrified monkey has been intentionally forced into this situation, for nothing more than clicks and profit,” he said.

“Animals used in these videos are subjected to long periods of suffering, and face visible trauma from a cruel set-up inflicted purely for entertainment.

“Wild animals are sentient beings, not props or entertainers for shocking social media content.”

The verified account holder who posted the video to Facebook was contacted on multiple occasions by Yahoo News Australia but did not respond.

Social media companies in spotlight over social responsibility

This is not the first time Facebook has been accused of failing to act in line with expected community standards.

Last year, the company's CEO Mark Zuckerberg was compelled to testify before US Congress, and answer questions about its moderation of extremism and misinformation.

Amid growing calls for social media companies to take stronger action to monitor offensive content, Twitter appears to be heading in the opposite direction.

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk signalled he planned to buy the platform in April, in order to promote free speech.

"I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law," he tweeted.

He signalled plans to allow former US President Donald Trump to return to the site, reversing a decision to ban him after the January 6 insurrection on the Capitol, carried out by his followers.

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