The campaign to expose the harmful, violent, and destructive reality of the animal agriculture industry.

THE FACE OF DECEIT: Ads exposing animal cruelty are being rejected by Facebook in favor of ones supporting the meat industry

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A drumstick was once the leg of a living chicken who did not want to die. But Facebook only allows one of these images to be advertised. A clue: It’s the one intended to appeal not to your head or your heart, but rather to your stomach.

DAVID MARTEN: Facebook’s algorithm is considering two sponsored posts that feature the same chicken. In the first post, she is alive and struggling, confined in a tiny cage, on her way to her premature death. In the second, she is dead, beheaded and roasted. Can you guess which post was approved? It turns out that Meta, the parent company of Facebook, is deceiving its consumers in more ways than one.

There’s a strange and troubling disconnect between the food we’re happy to see on our plate and the true story of the living animal who eventually becomes that food — often under painful and distressing circumstances. A drumstick was once the leg of a living chicken who did not want to die. But Facebook only allows one of these images to be advertised. A clue: It’s the one intended to appeal not to your head or your heart, but rather to your stomach.

Ads are placed on Facebook feeds by animal rights organisations like The Humane League, the group I work for, to raise awareness about the reality of factory farming. These ads depict chickens raised for food (commonly known as broiler chickens) and their experiences on factory farms.

But Facebook’s algorithm often rejects those ads under its “sensational content” policy. Facebook requires posts that share “violent” or “graphic content” information and images to come with a content warning, which cannot be included in paid ads.

The miserable, tortured lives endured by chickens raised for human consumption are upsetting from beginning to end. Broiler chickens live under some of the most brutal conditions experienced by any non-human animal… Slaughterhouse deaths are frequently haphazard and inhumane. The techniques used to knock out a bird before her death often fail and many chickens venture wide awake and conscious to their own slaughter.

It’s not a surprise that telling these animals’ stories provokes horror and sadness — it’s not exactly the kind of content you might be excited to see on a morning scroll of your social media feed. I understand the rationale behind Facebook’s sensational content policy. But isn’t it ironic that while Facebook rejects The Humane League’s ads, companies selling chicken products are free to advertise the final result of a broiler chicken’s tragic life?…

Cheerful young people celebrate over meals of chicken sandwiches; a family digs into a fried chicken bucket. These ads aren’t just limited to Facebook — you’ll find them everywhere both online and off, from a YouTube ad to a billboard at a bus stop. Facebook and companies like it deem these images as harmless advertising. But underneath the happy feasting lies the grim story of an animal in pain.

The painful truth is that behind the everyday images of meat consumption that most people barely register, cruelty and violence prevail. If more people knew about the reality behind the chicken they eat every day – whether purchased at a fast food chain or bought from the supermarket – they could play a more active role to end this suffering by making more conscious food or life choices. If this were to happen, for example, then some people might consider a vegan lifestyle…

But the very nature of the violent treatment means that social media algorithms like the ones used by Facebook restrict the ability of organisations like mine to inform people about the cruelty suffered by animals behind the meat they eat for their meals. It’s a catch-22 that chickens and other farm animals are paying for…

If a chicken experiences enough violence that we have to flag her story with a content warning, doesn’t that make it obvious that we should not be putting her through the experience in the first place? Unlike other upsetting content that might be flagged with a warning, the way we treat animals farmed for food is not a failure of the system of industrial agriculture, but rather is a feature of it — one baked right in with the herbs and spices.

That means that it’s not simply Facebook’s algorithm that needs review, nor the question of what makes content palatable. After all, consider the flip side of this coin — those who understand the truth about how chickens raised for meat are typically treated before their deaths might consider an ad featuring a chicken dinner to be worthy of a content warning. But content warnings alone won’t change anyone’s mind or lead to productive conversations between the two groups triggered by the finished meat product or the story behind it. SOURCE…

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