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Definitions of animal cruelty content

SMACC defines animal cruelty as:

a range of human behaviours, performed intentionally or unintentionally, that cause animals harm or suffering which may be  immediate or long-term, physical or psychological.


We propose that since cruelty is not always obvious, input from specialists familiar with specific species, contexts or behaviours should be valued.


Animal cruelty content depicts anything that has been posted on a social media platform by an individual, organization, or business, that depicts animal cruelty or suffering for any reason apart from valid campaigning, journalistic or educational purposes. While it is true that suffering is a part of life and that it sometimes serves an important purpose, cruelty content has no discernible meaningful purpose and we consider it to be a barbaric form of entertainment.

Please find bellow a list of animal cruelty themes, specific abuses and categories. You can use this list to help you identify and define animal cruelty online. 

Cruelty content themes

The following are common animal cruelty content themes. Click on each theme for more details. 

Specific abuses

Within the themes we have identified specific abuses, all of which have seen occurring in social media animal cruelty content videos on multiple occasions.

  • beating to death / beating / kicking / punching

  • burning / setting alight

  • crushing with shoe / crushing

  • dismembering / removing limbs / eyes / other

  • dragging animal / behind a vehicle or otherwise

  • drowning / partial drowning / threat of drowning

  • electric shock

  • false husbandry / conservation information

  • feeding spicy food / inappropriate food

  • fighting animals / encouraging fighting

  • giving animal alcohol / drugs

  • harmful chemicals ingested / sprayed on animal / animal made to use

  • hunting / killing with knives

  • hunting / trapping

  • hunting other

  • hunting with bows or spears

  • hunting with dogs

  • hunting with guns

  • hunting with hawks or other raptors

  • inappropriate handling or environment 

  • injury treatment either unqualified or after intentional wounding

  • live burial / partial or full

  • mutilating / maiming / cutting

  • over breeding

  • poor husbandry / dirt cage / own faeces

  • rough handling

  • scaring with another animal / predator

  • scaring with masks / props

  • separating infants / killing of parent(s)

  • sexual abuse from human or on itself

  • social isolation

  • spraying with water / hose

  • starving / making animal wait for food unnecessarily


Cruelty content can be broadly  categorized as follows:



a possible violation of platform's existing policies

Making a macaque "smile", which may be a genuine misinterpretation of a fear/stress behaviour


not a violation of platform's existing policies - promotes cruel and illegal activity behind the scenes (pet trade/capture)

Selfies with wild animals;
Keeping baby macaque as pet



a clear violation of platform's existing policies


a possible violation of platform's existing policies

Burying a live baby monkey;
Intentionally setting dogs on live kitten;
Burning live animals

Teasing a caged monkey;
Filming a feral kitten being devoured by street dogs;
Animal performances/wild animals as entertainers;
Fake/staged rescues

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