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Social media giving a voice to those without a voice

By Shannon Williams, Fri 21 Nov 2014
FYI, this story is more than a year old

One of the most accessible tools animal welfare charities and advocates have at their disposal for raising awareness is social media.

The amount of charities and animal welfare advocates harnessing social media to create lasting, positive effects is growing.

More than ever before, information about animal welfare and cases of animal cruelty are in the public eye. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are fantastic tools to capture attention, educate people and engage supporters.

Mandy Carter, head of campaigns at  animal advocacy organisation SAFE, says social media is an especially useful way to promote campaigns.  “Nowadays people tend to visit websites a lot less than they did before and go on Facebook multiple times a day, so for us to have a Facebook presence and to be able to talk to our supporters on a regular basis without them having to receive an email from us or go on our website is massive.”

Before the days of social media, awareness around animal cruelty was rather low. People may have only learned about cases of animal cruelty on television news or in the newspaper, where only extreme cases that went to the courts were reported. Today, animal cruelty cases are spread all over social media, and online news sites are reporting cases brought to the courts more and more often.

“Everyone is talking about it and giving their opinion about it. You can’t help but see these things, you can’t escape it,” Carter says.

The ability to help animals has become far more accessible with the use of technology. Apps, websites and social media help people who want to get involved, go cruelty free, go vegetarian, but might not know how.

Having so much information online and easily accessible means more and more people are becoming involved and actively seeking products they can buy that are vegan or cruelty free. Carter says there are numerous companies out there who mislead consumers with tricky wording, and people need to be careful when buying products the company says is not tested on animals.  “Avon says they don’t test on animals at all, except when required by law. Avon sells to China, which by law has mandatory animal testing, so Avon does test on animals. People have to mindful of not being caught out”.

Carter says technology has enabled SAFE to do more things and be more proactive, such as the release of its SAFEshopper app. “With social media and smartphones, there are so many new ways to get our point across”.

Along with social media, the charity’s website is used as a tool to spread information about animal cruelty that people may not have been aware of. During the elections, SAFE created a document advising people where each party stood on animal welfare policies, and this was shared across social media platforms.

“Everyone talks online now – people express their outrage when they see animal cruelty going on, so it’s a good opportunity for us to spread our message”.

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