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SICK-TOK: Inside TikTok’s sickening rise in animal abuse videos as cats are strangled, slapped and scared

A global report from welfare network the Asia For Animals Coalition found more than 5,480 links to animal cruelty content across TikTok, YouTube and Facebook between July 2020 and August 2021.

JOSH SAUNDERS: Within seconds, a clip of a woman stroking a cat to the beat of Queen classic Bohemian Rhapsody went from a touching moment to apparent abuse. The individual, who The Sun has chosen not to name, aggressively slapped her cat on its face and body while the petrified pet bared its teeth and cowered in pain. Two commenters wrote in response to the vile video, which has been liked 105,000 times, “l laughed so much” and “LMFAO snot flew, help!”.

But for animal charities, this is no laughing matter. They claim clips like these, found through popular hashtags, are “normalising violence” against pets and encouraging abuse. Millions around the nation were outraged after The Sun revealed footage of West Ham footballer Kurt Zouma, 27, kicking his cat. Yet plenty of similar videos exist online — and the numbers are increasing by the day.

The Sun found countless clips, including one showing a distressed animal yelping after losing stability due to having slices of cheese put on to its paws which received six million likes. Others showed the pets racing to their food bowls only to be sent flying after hitting an invisible barrier of sticky tape. In some videos owners wore giant cat masks to terrify their pets…

Many clips are posted under the same three hashtags, which we have chosen not to reveal, which collectively attract more than 90 BILLION views. And in a world of social media influencers and 15 minutes of fame on the internet, it seems TikTok users are resorting to ever more extreme lengths to gain validation and followers.

Several videos involved forcing an elastic band over a cat’s head to force their ears upright to make them look like a rabbit. The cruelty clearly upset many of the cats, which jolted their heads rapidly in different directions and hissed — a clear indication they were distressed. These clips were accompanied by popular songs including 50 Cent’s Candy Shop, attracting even more views and likes as TikTok distributes videos to wider audiences if they have a tune that is popular on the platform.

In another, which received 20,000 likes, a woman throttled her cat, squeezed its jaw tightly and slapped it, while the pet tried to avoid the beating. Others showed distressed pets having pancakes put on their faces, made to wear uncomfortable costumes and more — all for “entertainment”…

All of the charities The Sun spoke to called on TikTok and other social media sites to be more proactive by searching for abuse and removing clips quicker. Animal rights group PETA argued that “platforms are profiting from animal abuse” if they do not ban people sharing this type of content. It said: “Users often post cruelty for its shock value, counting on people to share the content, which directs more visitors to the platform and ultimately boosts advertising income.”

Madison Rogers, of Cats Protection, added that TikTok needs to find ways to “encourage users not to engage” with such content, especially because it is “self-regulated”. She added: “They should invest in staff to look for animal abuse videos and, where relevant, report it to authorities.” Four Paws UK was “disgusted” by the amount of animal abuse on social media and urged TikTok to crack down to avoid “becoming synonymous with such violence”…

A global report from welfare network the Asia For Animals Coalition found more than 5,480 links to animal cruelty content across TikTok, YouTube and Facebook between July 2020 and August 2021. TikTok said it asks all users to adhere to its guidelines, which state that animal cruelty should not be posted or shared… When approached by The Sun, TikTok told us there is “no place for this kind of behaviour” on the platform. Yet it took down just two out of 11 concerning clips we highlighted that showed varying degrees of animal violence. SOURCE…


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