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A coalition of wildlife organizations is calling on their peers to amend the online safety law in response to the growing practice of torturing animals for videos on social media.
In recent months, more and more “terrifying and graphic” videos and images of baby monkeys being filmed for abuse and even being killed in agony have been circulating online.
Clips shared in private Telegram groups are now appearing on social media platforms.
At least six public and private Facebook groups, the largest with 1,300 members, feature “extreme and graphic videos” that are openly promoted and commented on by members.
A study found more than 13,000 social media links showing animal cruelty collected since March 2021.
Sarah Kite, co-founder of Action for Primates, said filmmakers performed, among other things: clamp the body of a baby monkey with forceps; to burn a baby monkey tied to a cage with lit cigarettes; Setting fire to parts of a baby monkey’s body and tying up monkeys in plastic bottles and putting dogs on them.
There are also clips of primates being run over by traffic. The Independent has seen even more terrifying examples of users posting “laughing” emojis.
“Unlike the Telegram groups, these people are currently operating in full public view and the number of groups and members is growing,” Ms Kite said.
“Many of the members and moderators use their real names and while most appear to be from the US there are a few here in the UK as well.
“This is a disturbing escalation in online content showing graphic and violent images of monkeys being abused, tortured and killed for ‘entertainment’. It really is horrific.”
Action for Primates, along with dozens of animal rights organizations, are working to ensure that animal cruelty content is included in the Online Safety Act.
Screenshot of images used in a Facebook group
The new legislation aims to protect people by forcing social media platforms to remove content such as anything that encourages self-harm and inappropriate content. Platforms must also block content depicting, for example, child sexual abuse, extreme sexual violence, fraud and hate crimes, but the bill does not cover animal abuse.
When the bill reaches committee stage later this month, the coalition will ask members of the House of Lords to back amendments by Balmacara’s Lord Stevenson that would force social media platforms to remove videos of animal cruelty.
The coalition includes the Wildlife and Countryside Link, whose members include well-known organizations such as Born Free. It states that the ready availability of such material is likely to cause significant psychological distress and harm to children.
In 2018, the RSPCA found that 23 percent of children had seen animal cruelty or neglect on social media.
“Posting monkey torture videos on social media platforms that show extreme violence inflicted on baby monkeys is disgusting,” Ms Kite said.
“Online platforms have failed to effectively monitor or enforce their own policies and self-regulation is not working.
“Effective laws are needed to stop this harmful content. We urge the government to include animal cruelty content within the scope of the bill.”
A government spokesman said: “The law will address some online activities related to animal cruelty, even if that content constitutes an existing criminal offence, such as B. extreme pornography, or if they could cause psychological harm to children.”
After The Independent reached out to Facebook and Instagram owner Meta for comment, the company removed some of the groups involved.
A spokesman said: “We have investigated the groups brought to our attention and removed content that violates our community standards.
“We do not allow animal cruelty on our platforms and we remove this type of content if we find it. We also encourage users to report this content to us through the tools on our platforms so our teams can investigate and take action.”