Ban Staged Animal Rescues on Facebook and Social Media

Ban Staged Animal Rescues on Facebook and Social Media

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Valerie mendez started this petition to CEO, Facebook Mark Zuckerberg and

 Dear Animal lovers,

TLDR;
Staged animal rescue videos are on the rise on social media. Social media companies have shown resistance to remove content reported as fake and detrimental to an animal’s wellbeing. This petition is a call to action toward getting companies like Facebook to update their rules and regulations, and reporting protocols regarding staged/fake animal rescue videos.

This content not only harms and exploits innocent animals, but also takes advantage of human empathy, and overshadows and damages the work of real rescues.

Please make sure any animal rescue videos you engage with come from VERIFIABLE sources before liking, commenting, or sharing.

“My advice would be to follow the five steps—be aware, report them, do not watch them, do not engage, do not share.”

- Sarah Grant, Coordinater for Asia for Animals Coalition

Please see petition updates for summary in Español, Francais, Türkçe, Deutsche, 中文(简体), 中文(繁體), Română, Pусский.

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Staged animal rescue videos often show similar stories; a person with a camera comes across a suffering animal - often a puppy or kitten - this person films the animal's distress, then films the “rescue”. The videos no doubt are meant to capture the attention of empathic hearts and people that are happy to see these poor creatures rescued from horrible situations - harsh weather, cages, human abuse, being stuck, sickness and/or injury - the kind people that watch, comment and share these videos, assume the animals featured are going on to have a better life.

Examples of these videos regularly go viral, and can have tens of thousands of likes, comments, and shares. However, if you take a closer look the videos and pages behind them, you begin to notice some red flags. They are not heartwarming tales but rather horrible examples of animal exploitation and/or abuse. Pages are created that specifically post this staged rescue content with sponsored ads, and make a profit off these misleading videos. The people behind these pages can also steal content from legit rescues, blurring or removing their logos, and making the staged content harder to identify.

Articles describing the trend of Staged/Fake Animals rescues:

Fake Rescues and Animal Torture Are Disturbingly Common on Social Media

- Vice, September 2021

How fake animal rescue videos have become a new frontier for animal abuse
- National Geograhic, June 2021

New report from World Animal Protection says cruel, fake animal rescue videos still prevalent on YouTube 
- World Animal Protection, June 2021

YouTube’s Fake Animal Rescue Problem
- VeganNews, January 2020

STOP SHARING Fake Dog Rescue Videos! They’re Full Of Horrific Abuse And Prey On Your Empathy
- Dogtime.com

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This petition is geared towards Facebook, but is relevant for all social media sites that utilize videos.

It is my hope that this petition will raise awareness, and gain enough support to get the attention of Facebook, and other social media sites* so they address the issue of videos and pages created/shared by opportunistic people using the social media platforms to exploit both animals and kind-hearted users. 

*** Note YouTube has just taken action to BAN staged/fake animal rescue videos: https://futurism.com/the-byte/youtube-banning-staged-animal-rescue-videos
This is great! However, now it is even more important to raise awareness and get other social media to take action, since the creators/posters of staged/fake animal rescues will move and use other platforms that are available to them. :::UPDATE:: Youtube has been slow to roll out and make the changes they pledged to do, when using this platform please make sure to keep an eye out and REPORT fake animal rescue videos, AND the channels posting them.

Ways to STOP Staged/Fake animal rescue videos on social media:

1) Update Facebook’s community standards, social media rules and regulations to PROHIBIT/BAN staged animal rescue videos 
2) Update reporting functions to specifically address concerns about staged animal rescue videos 
3) REMOVE reported staged rescue content  
4) DO NOT allow ads to run on rescue videos 
5) REQUIRE verification for rescue videos i.e page transparency if operating as a non-profit/rescue - name organization, contact info, identify the organization/ people involved in the rescue (or a representative)

What to do if you come across a Staged/Fake Animal Rescue Video:

If you suspect a rescue video is staged try to contact the page/poster - the people behind these fake/stage pages will likely not bother responding, or will not have information to back up a legitimate rescue. If you recognize content is stolen, alert the real owner. Then report the video, and the page that posted it. Try not to engage with the posted video - reactions (like mad/sad emoji,) comments - even if as a warning to others, and shares all count toward positive engagement which makes it more popular.  You can screen shot the video/page and let your network know what pages are exploiting animals. In the meantime for folks concerned about staged animal rescue videos, below are two articles that share good insight how on to spot a staged/fake animal rescue video.

Articles noting ways to spot Staged/Fake Animal Rescues:

https://www.four-paws.org/our-stories/publications-guides/fake-animal-rescue-videos

https://muhdnaayif.medium.com/the-rise-of-fake-animal-rescuers-aef1c80b4e72

There are REAL heartwarming examples of real rescues, made by professional organizations and good-hearted people that help animals in need. Real rescues brighten our day, and give us hope. They should not be overshadowed by the con artists using helpless animals and people’s empathy to make “easy” money. Hopefully this petition will shine some light on this issue and lead to some changes that help save animals and make the internet a better place.

Many thanks for your support!

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At 50,000 signatures, this petition becomes one of the top signed on Change.org!