“Have you no heart?” was the first reaction I had when I saw Instagram’s response to our pleas for them to take down Farzad Pooladi’s posts. Splayed across his page were numerous photos of bloodied, limp, and tortured bodies of rabbits for the entire world to see. He reveled in the rabbits’ deaths, in the animal communities’ disgust in him, and worse yet, he felt emboldened to continue on in his documentation of his heinous acts – because he knew no one could stop him, least of all Instagram.
But how could this be when Instagram’s policies state that users must “respect other members of the Instagram community,” and that only “photos and videos that are appropriate for a diverse audience” will be allowed? If “photos, videos, and some digitally-created content that show sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks” are deemed inappropriate and banned for offending some people’s sensibilities, why isn’t the ill-feeling induced by torture taken into account as well?
And what of the new ban against exotic animal selfies that Instagram recently implemented? They want to prevent illegal animal entrapment and hunting, yet they refuse to take responsibility for the lives of other animals – just because they are “ordinary.” But dogs, cats, rabbits, etc. should not be overlooked. They are just as important as endangered wildlife to all those who take care of them and love them as if they were their own children.
By not taking responsibility for graphic animal abuse posts, Instagram is aiding and abetting animal abusers. Without a strong rule against animal cruelty, Instagram is not beholden to surrender the evidence they have stored in their servers to the courts or law enforcement, if a legal case is ever made against the abuser. If Instagram cannot be subpoenaed into relinquishing the evidence, then they are protecting the abuser and allowing them to walk free. This is an outcome that should never be allowed.
So the “Demand Instagram Improve Its Rules Against Animal Cruelty” campaign was created. First a petition was drafted, then testimonials were collected confirming the trauma that seeing those images has caused. Posters were passed out to further raise awareness of our grievances, and now articles exposing Instagram’s misdeeds have been written and publicized.
Nothing is immutable. Change will come in one form or another, and we stand proudly protecting what we believe is right. We are speaking for the voiceless and the defenseless. With this always in our hearts, I have no doubt we will triumph.
Featured image courtesy Kim Bartlett / Animal People, Inc.