The role of social media in promoting organised dog fighting
V. Tamara Montrose, Lori R Kogan, James A Oxley
Saturday, October 2, 2021
Background: Organised dog fighting is a criminal activity in most developed countries. However, despite this, its occurrence continues. As with many underground activities, social media is likely to play a critical role in promoting organised dog fighting. Aim: The study aim was to review video content on three social media platforms to look for evidence of organised dog fighting. Methods: A content review of three social media platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram) was conducted. Videos suggestive of organised dog fighting were categorised as: i) fights involving physical contact; ii) intimidation; iii) promotion of dog fights and iv) hypothetical ‘match-ups’. Information collected included video information (title, author, date posted, URL), content description (video description, breed description) and popularity of the video (number of likes, views and comments). Results: Fifty-eight incidents were identified (YouTube: <i>n</i>=27, Instagram: <i>n</i>=18, Facebook: <i>n</i>=13). On YouTube, 17 videos (63.0%) were fights involving physical contact, five (18.5%) were hypothetical ‘match-ups’, four (14.8%) were a promotion of dog fights, and one (3.7%) was a video of images of an organised dog fight. On Facebook and Instagram, all videos were fights involving physical contact. Where breed information was available, the dogs were largely described as pit bulls (YouTube: 51.9%; Instagram: 66.7%). These videos varied in their numbers of views (mean: YouTube: 682 856.0, Instagram: 773.6), comments (mean: YouTube: 319.5, Facebook: 10.3; Instagram: 0.6) and likes (mean: YouTube: 4868.4, Facebook: 434.8). Conclusion: More vigilance by social media platforms and their users to monitor, remove and report such footage is essential, especially where videos breach animal welfare rules and regulations. Further research into other online platforms or different formats through which dog fighting and/or promotion may occur, and the education of social media users to recognise signs that videos may be promoting organised dog fighting, would be of value.
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