Anyone who wants to see animals going after each other for some reason can just search on YouTube and find a wealth of disturbing videos. But there’s one especially disgusting sub-genre of animal ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋ content on the platform that seems to be a fairly recent phenomenon: fake Rᴇsᴄᴜᴇ videos.
The producers of these videos seem to set up an animal—often a puppy or kitten—as bait for another animal, often a snake, to ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋ, so a person can then “sᴀᴠᴇ” the ᴠɪᴄᴛɪᴍ. And despite what appear to be clear violations against YouTube’s policy prohibiting videos that depict “infliction of unnecessary sᴜꜰꜰᴇʀɪɴɢ or ʜᴀʀᴍ deliberately causing an animal ᴅɪsᴛʀᴇss,” far too many of these hell videos remain on the platform.
“There is no doubt that the animals in these videos will have suffered from ɪɴᴊᴜʀɪᴇs and severe psychological ᴛʀᴀᴜᴍᴀ, just for cheap thrills for viewers at home,” Ben Williamson, program director for World Animal Protection said. “If urgent action isn’t taken, we could see a whole surge of copycat content emerge – putting more animals and people at risk.”
Animal rights activists at the World Animal Protection are pleading for YouTube to more closely monitor fake animal Rᴇsᴄᴜᴇ videos. “Just when you think you’ve heard it all, humans think of another way to be ᴄʀᴜᴇʟ to animals. Social media giants like YouTube should be on the front foot when it comes to banning this disgusting content from their platforms,” Ricky Gervais, animal advocate, comedian, and actor said, according to News Wire.
In total, World Animal Protection found over 180 different fake animal Rᴇsᴄᴜᴇ videos published on YouTube between October 2018 and May 2021. The 50 most viewed videos collecting an astonishing 133.5 million views.
At the time this report was published, some of the fake animal Rᴇsᴄᴜᴇ videos had been taken down in response to media attention focused on this issue. However, the vast majority of the content described in this report was still publicly available.
In March, YouTube announced its intent to take action to ban staged animal Rᴇsᴄᴜᴇ videos. However, since the announcement was made more than a hundred new videos were uploaded, and hundreds remain on the platform, according to a report from Lady Freethinker, an animal welfare nonprofit.