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  • Writer's pictureFriends of Bonobos

6 Actions You Can Take to Help Stop Social Media Animal Cruelty

A guest blog post from the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) – a coalition of African wildlife sanctuaries protecting monkeys and great apes. Friends of Bonobos is a member of PASA.


PASA was started with the goal of helping rescued primates in sanctuaries across Africa. But we also prioritize protecting monkeys and apes in the wild, as well as those currently trapped in inhumane captive situations.

Because of their impressive intelligence and high energy behavior, there is a common misconception that primates make good pets. Unfortunately, quite the opposite is true. Clever, strong, and evolved to live in a complicated, competitive social environment, primates cannot be given a happy life as a pet and will cause a lot of stress and destruction for those who attempt to keep them.

Social Media Photos Hide Ugly Truth

Tragically, photos and videos that show brief moments of pet primates’ lives can be significantly mislead the general public into viewing primates as being able to be kept just like a dog, cat, or other domesticated animal.

What social media images do not show is extensive. Many pet primates were originally taken from the wild, meaning each animal’s mother and likely other relatives were killed when catching the helpless infant. As they go through sexual maturity, their behavior significantly changes and they begin to display natural behaviors, which can include aggression. In order for owners to control their pet primates, they often have teeth and digits removed, eventually keeping them confined in inappropriate holdings in order to control them.

Ask Social Media Companies to Stop Enabling Primate Cruelty

PASA has started a campaign to hold Google and Facebook accountable for their role in enabling the illegal pet trade. Specifically, PASA is asking that social media giants like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram make it easier for users to report images of pet primates in cruel situations, as well as removing all reported content featuring pet primates.

You can do your part by signing the letter:

Learn More About the Crisis

As an additional step to end the horrific circumstances internet platforms enable, PASA has joined the Social Media Animal Cruelty Coalition or SMACC. Here animal cruelty is defined as “a range of human behaviors, performed intentionally or unintentionally, that cause animals harm or suffering which may be immediate or long-term, physical or psychological.”

SMACC has detailed descriptions of animal abuse that are shared across internet media platforms, some of which include torture, teasing, prolonging death and using animals as performers.

The SMACC coalition released a groundbreaking report on this subject, entitled Making Money from Misery: How social media giants profit from animal abuse [Warning: The report contains disturbing content.] This 2021 report documents the scale and scope of the problem and offers actionable ways for concerned and compassionate people to help stop this.

More Actions You Can Take
  1. ​Be aware: Please visit the SMACC home page to learn about the categories and themes of animal cruelty found on social media.

  2. Report: when you see animal cruelty images, report them to the social media companies and encourage others to do the same.

  3. Do not watch, comment or share animal cruelty videos even to raise awareness. This raises the popularity of the content.

  4. Sign the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance's petition to Google and Facebook appealing to them to make it easier to report that videos and images featuring pet apes and monkeys are cruel.

  5. Sign Action for Primates' petition to YouTube asking them to stop hosting channels that promote cruelty and violence against monkeys.

  6. Sign SMACC’s petitions asking for action from the social media giants


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