Investigation Finds Facebook Awash In Staged (But Lucrative) “Rescue” Videos

Most people are outraged by instances of animal cruelty, and rightly so! But as it turns out, companies are manipulating our outrage by staging fake rescue videos to just get some extra clicks. In addition to cynically manipulating our emotions, these staged “rescue” videos are putting animals at risk.

This unsettling practice came to light following an investigation with an animal welfare organization, Lady Freethinker, which found staged rescue videos had become a lucrative practice on both YouTube and Facebook.

Photo: Lady Freethinker/YouTube Screenshot

In response to public pressure, which included a widely circulated petition, YouTube has removed its staged “rescue” videos and banned such content in the future.

But according to Insider, Facebook is still exploiting animals (and earning money) by broadcasting fake rescue videos, which have generated over 175 million clicks and views.

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One viral clip reportedly showed a man and his son heroically “saving” a pig from a python’s jaws just seconds before the snake attacked, garnered 28 million views on Facebook. Other videos showed a litter of cats being saved from a hungry anaconda.

The only problem, according to Lady Freethinker, was that these rescues were staged, exploiting the animals and exposing both predator and prey to needless stress. The charity reportedly found more than 120 staged rescue videos while perusing Facebook’s “Watch” channel.

HELP! Innocent puppies (among other small animals) are being attacked by snakes and other predators on STAGED YouTube…

Posted by Lady Freethinker on Monday, March 22, 2021

“Simple searches bring up long lists of these fake rescues, indicating a widespread problem,” Nina Jackel, Lady Freethinker’s founder, told Insider. “I hope that after seeing these findings, Facebook will take swift action to remove these types of videos from their platform and strengthen their procedures to stop all content that promotes animal cruelty.”

We also hope that Facebook, which has reportedly removed some offending content but, at the time of writing, hadn’t committed to a platform-wide purge, will follow YouTube’s example and do the right thing.

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