Calls for social media to ban animal cruelty content

Campaigners have called for the government to take animal cruelty content seriously when it introduces its Online Safety Bill.

Animal groups, including Wildlife and Countryside Link, the Badger Trust, the AfA Social Media Animal Cruelty Coalition and World Animal Protection, have drawn attention to the alarming number of videos depicting animal abuse online. One of the posts featured illegal UK badger baiting. 

The coalition of campaigners warned that this type of content is not only physically harmful to the animals involved but also psychologically damaging to its audiences – especially when it reaches vulnerable adults or children. 

These issues have been raised with the secretary of state for science, innovation and technology Michelle Donelan, in hopes that amendments to the Online Safety Bill will be made. 

The bill, which exists to protect children and vulnerable people from illegal and/or harmful content, does not currently include animal cruelty content. 

Peter Hambly, executive director of the Badger Trust, commented: “The inclusion of badger baiting and cruelty towards badgers and dogs in the scope of the Online Safety Bill is desperately needed as the filming and sharing of this type of activity has increased with frightening speed.

“It is so cruel to the badger and the dog, but also to the viewer, many of whom are children. The inclusion would further advance the Government’s commitment to prioritising badger persecution and cyber-enabled wildlife crime as wildlife crime priorities, while demonstrating their obligations to the Bern Convention, the international treaty to which badgers are listed in Appendix III as protected species.”