Twitter needs to restrict freedom of speech on animal cruelty in Asia

 

The title might sound bizarre; as if written by an animal abuser. Quite the contrary. Please read the entire article and please don’t skim it or speed read it. I am all for freedom of speech, one of the pillars of human society enshrined in the constitution of many countries. And Elon Musk, who owns Twitter, is strongly for giving Twitter users free-rein to more or less say and show what they like even if it is highly unpleasant as is the case with the Yulin dog meat trade and market in China.

I am all for fighting this horrendously cruel human behavior. The cruelty needs to be aired on social media. BUT, there is a limit to this. Twitter knows that I am interested in animal welfare which means that this social media platform automatically serves me videos and images from the dog meat markets of Asia that are simply unpalatable. They are impossible to look at.

Constant publication of animal abuse images on Twitter desensitizes the average citizen and pushes away the sensitive animal advocate and is counterproductive. There needs to be a balanced approach in which animal abuse images and videos are shown to educate people but where a warning is given to allow readers to make an informed choice. – MikeB

I take an alternative stance on this topic in another article (click to see it if you wish) and it sounds as if I am contradicting myself but I’m not. I am seeking a balance which protects the viewers while airing the important topic of animal welfare which includes on occasions showing images of animal abuse.

Desensitizing the average viewing public

I have to skip past them by scrolling down the Twitter page as fast as possible. Twitter administrators are not doing their job with sufficient vigor or commitment. Or they think it is okay for the general public to see horrendous animal cruelty. Seeing this stuff can harm the viewer psychologically. The end result is a world in which a dog has been harmed through gross cruelty and a human who’s been harmed by viewing the gross animal cruelty.

What’s the point? The users who tweet cat and dog cruelty in Asia need to be reminded that they can get their message across about the cruelty of the Asian dog and cat meat markets WITHOUT showing pornographic videos and still images that break the heart. The same applies to any animal cruelty.

I have seen many tweets by animal rescue organisations showing unpalatable images of injured or diseased cats and dogs. They are too difficult to view. They should not be published on Twitter. Surely there has to be a limit to protect the public, particularly children? These images and videos may inure children to animal cruelty. They may become desensitized to it. This would have a negative impact in the fight for better animal welfare in the future.

Words only sometimes

Twitter administrators should introduce a rule which makes it mandatory to use words only or acceptable pictures when hammering home the point about dog and cat cruelty in Asia. Words are enough if they are used to maximum effect.

Twitter could jazz up the platform to make the presentation of words more interesting. At the moment is all the same format and font. It is dull. Add different fonts, different sizes and different colours.

Glorifying abuse

I learned this years ago. Users of the internet including website owners can’t glorify animal abuse. They can’t try and obtain shock value by presenting gruesome animal abuse. In doing so they will probably push away sensitive animal advocates who they need to support the movement against Yulin dog meat festival and markets.

Think of a different way to fight the cruelty. To simply post sickening videos which cannot be watched by anyone with a modicum of decency won’t work for the vast majority of social media users. It just puts them off and makes them shut the horrors out of their minds.

PETA

PETA’s M.O. is to shock the public with horrible animal abuse videos and images. I understand this. But once again, it can be overdone and it can end up being counter-productive for the reason stated. It can desensitise. Sickening images need to be published with great caution and in a regulated way in order that they may maintain their impact and be an effective tool against animal cruelty and in support of animal welfare.

Advertisers

There is another point to be made. Lack of moderation leading to extreme animal cruelty in tweets (and other unacceptable tweets) is scaring away advertisers as shown in a 50% drop in advertising revenue as reported in The Times of 18th July 2023. It seems that Musk’s clear-out of employees has to a certain extent been counterproductive. Twitter is still losing money. They need the advertisers back but they need employees to remove crappy tweets. It requires a balanced approach. Musk brought a sledgehammer to the business.

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