Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Facebook must change its policies on animal abuse

I saw another one today.

A fellow Facebooker and blogger posted a story about someone dousing a kitten with gasoline and setting it on fire. Then they put the video on Facebook. People complained to Facebook to get the video taken down.

Facebook. Did. Nothing.

In fact, here is what they said, according to the article in The Daily Mail:
"People come to Facebook to share experiences of the world around them and on occasion this may result in the sharing of content that some may find upsetting. 
"While we do not allow content that directly encourages violence, we try to create a safe environment that balances people's desire to express themselves and in some cases condemn what they see."
This is the Facebook Community Standard for graphic content:
Facebook has long been a place where people turn to share their experiences and raise awareness about issues important to them. Sometimes, those experiences and issues involve graphic content that is of public interest or concern, such as human rights abuses or acts of terrorism. In many instances, when people share this type of content, it is to condemn it. However, graphic images shared for sadistic effect or to celebrate or glorify violence have no place on our site.

When people share any content, we expect that they will share in a responsible manner. That includes choosing carefully the audience for the content. For graphic videos, people should warn their audience about the nature of the content in the video so that their audience can make an informed choice about whether to watch it.
 I get what Facebook is saying. I just don't agree with it.

On the one hand, by allowing these people to post these videos we are able to find where the abusers are and alert the authorities. Many have been caught and arrested this way.

It happened in this case from Brevard County, Florida in 2013 where a teen shooting animals in cages. He posted the video on Facebook for friends to see. But eventually he was caught and arrested.

Or this case from France earlier this year, where a man was arrested for posting a video of a kitten being thrown against a building.

If they can't post on Facebook, these people will just find another corner of the Internet to post this stuff, like 4Chan, where the rules are practically nonexistent.

But for Facebook there is a higher moral problem. Facebook's people know full well how viral videos work. Context is not something that follows with the videos. There is also a danger of copycats seeing this stuff.

The other problem is there is plenty of evidence that shows Facebook is not always taking down the pictures and videos that are of a sadistic nature.

What can we do?

 Well, here's a crazy idea -- don't share the videos when you see them! With anyone! Report the video, then share the person's Facebook page, not the video itself.

What do I want Facebook to do?

I think Facebook needs to listen to the people. When someone complains about these videos they need to be taken down. But then Facebook needs to do one more thing. They need to report these cases. They have the data on who these people are and where they are from. They need to be reported to the authorities.

So how do you get Facebook to listen? Because there are like two dozen petitions out on the petition sites and nothing seems to change Facebook's mind.

Facebook is a publicly traded company. It's time to hit the shareholders.

Now, I don't have contact information, but I have found some places where we can start getting contact info. These are the people who have the power to change policy at Facebook. Talk to them.

The website Who Owns Facebook.com has a list of all the stakeholders in the company, and where they work now. If I can find contact information I will post it here.

More info is on the Yahoo! Finance page.

Mark Zuckerberg has his own Facebook page, for those who don't know.

So does his dog, Beast.

Don't threaten. Don't get nasty. Just make it clear -- you want changes. Don't get emotional, don't ramble. You want changes because morally it is the right thing to do. These videos should be taken down when posted, whether they are contextually "sadistic" or not. And Facebook needs to make a greater investment in making users understand they they will report animal abuse the way child abuse is reported.


  1. Great post. I agree with you, Facebook should listen to the people and they should be reporting any crimes they know about. I will be looking to see if you find any contact information for the stakeholders.

  2. I am disgusted with Facebook. Animal abuse is illegal in the United States. Facebook should not allow videos of this kind but should instead report the documentation of the illegal activity to the authorities.

    And, as a side note, I hope that whoever harmed this poor animal has the same thing happen to him.


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