UK Safer Internet Centre Sees Concerning Rise in Animal Abuse Content

08 Mar 2024 UK SIC

In the past year, our service Report Harmful Content has seen a significant rise in animal abuse reports across social media channels.

Since November 2023, Report Harmful Content can reveal that 36% of the content escalated to industry partners included animal abuse, with the vast majority involving the abuse of monkeys. During this time, Report Harmful Content has successfully been able to remove 84% of this harmful content being shared across social media platforms.

The content, which is often distressing to watch, usually involves monkeys being physically and psychologically hurt and mistreated. Concerningly, Report Harmful Content has found that alongside much of this content, many viewers have actively engaged in and encouraged their torture, revealing a concerning global trend.

A Global Concern

A year-long investigation by the BBC revealed that many of these videos are part of a “sadistic global monkey torture ring stretching from Indonesia to the United States,” the investigation found that torture rings had customers across the world, including the United Kingdom, paying macaques’ owners to film them being tortured and killed.

Journalists discovered that social media channels had groups ranging from hundreds to thousands of people gathering to encourage and pay to see the abuse of animals. Alongside this, the videos were being distributed across various social media platforms, making them widely accessible to the general public.

Support Available

For most social media platforms, content involving animal cruelty is strictly forbidden. To support this, Report Harmful Content has continued to escalate content to be removed at the request of users, with most escalated cases resulting in the successful removal of content.

New legislation brought in under the Online Safety Act will help to enforce these guidelines further, with the Act ensuring that all social media platforms will be expected ‘to proactively tackle the illegal content and have it swiftly removed.’

The new legislation will cover all users within the UK who have seen animal abuse content on social media platforms. For more information on how to make a report to a social media platform, or to view their community guidelines, visit the Report Harmful Content website.

What Can You Do If You See Animal Abuse Online?

This concerning surge in animal abuse videos, particularly those involving monkeys, is a distressing trend that demands urgent attention and action.

To report any form of animal abuse online, users should always report content directly to the social media platform it is hosted on. If the social media platform or website fails to take action, anyone over the age of 13 in the UK can use Report Harmful Content to escalate their report directly to the platform involved. Guidance on how to report content can be found on the Report Harmful Content website.

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