Someone shared a video to me today of a man beating a dog with a shovel, a board and a rod. My first thought was to see where this occurred so that I could go provide education to the offender in hopes of changing his ways (sarcasm).
The post was from a website in the UK: Metro.co.uk. If you go to their site you see it is mostly lots of pictures and articles about celebrities, abuse and crime, in other words, tabloid journalism.
Another friend shared a post of animal cruelty that was taken by someone who actually intervened and ensured that the animal was saved AND the perpetrator went to jail. This was local and was shared by someone I knew who knew the person who intervened. Note there is a big difference in the two articles/posts that were shared to me.
I work daily in Internet marketing and I am hugely involved in animal welfare so I see a large number of these shared posts on Facebook and other social media. Someone posts photos or video of an animal in some way being abused or neglected and everyone with love for animals shares it over and over.
While some of these are recent stories and originally posted by someone who is taking action to change outcomes for the animals, many are simply “clickbait” to get people to a website where the original poster’s advertising has a chance to be seen and clicked on. (When you click on those ads, the website gets paid by the advertiser.) The websites place a video or pictures you will find offensive, which are meant to incite outrage and they often succeed. There is a short description of how egregious the act of cruelty is along with an initial comment or two about what dirt bags the offenders are that get placed from another account controlled directly or indirectly by the poster. This is done to start the comment stream.
(Clickbait is defined as content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page.)
There are many on Facebook who are animal lovers and many who work in animal welfare as rescuers, animal fosters, etc. not to mention veterinarians and vet techs, etc. People see these posts and their first reaction is anger and outrage, because many deal with it every day and are trying to put an end to cruelty and neglect toward animals. Most of us immediately prepare to share the post (and our outrage) with our friends.
Please, before you share a post like this ask yourself a question or two:
Was it originally posted by someone I know or did one of my friends share someone else’ post to me? If your friend simply shared it, look closely at the post to see if it is from a media/tabloid type website or if it is from a news source you know personally and trust or a person you know personally.
Look also to see if the original poster or the place where the abuse occurred is LOCAL. Obviously, it is easier to bring about change in an area you live in than it is in another state. Yes, you may bring about change within the US but ask yourself if sharing this will actually do that. If the post is from something that took place in the UK and you are in a city in the U.S. it is unlikely you re-sharing the post will bring about change in the UK.
When you click on it do you land on a website that has more of this type of post? Are there many posts about egregious acts or violations of the law? Are there more images on a page than actual text? Is there an abundance of ads on the page? Note: If you use an ad blocker you are not going to see them unless you disable it and refresh the page.
If it is one of those types of sites, ask yourself this question: Do I want to support websites that are using stories of animal cruelty simply to make a dollar off of the animal’s pain?
Remember all of us reflexively tend to share things that outrage us, but that doesn’t necessarily change things. Because many of our friends share our sensibilities, when we share it they then share it again.
So, who is really going to benefit if you re-share this post? You, the animal, some other worthy cause or is it simply someone exploiting animal abuse to make a dollar? Many of these posts use old or outdated stories and are regurgitated over and over. The web properties that post these have no real costs in doing this, so everything they make when someone clicks an ad goes straight into their pockets; this is why they continue to do it.
My suggestion is to endeavor to be clear on what you are sharing and ask yourself if you want to inadvertently help someone make money off of the suffering of an animal.
I also suggest you block the offending post and original poster so that Facebook or other social media becomes aware it is essentially spam. Obviously, this takes more than one person blocking it for them to become aware or take action.
Thanks to each of you for all you do #ForTheAnimals.