Speed Reads

'profits over principles'

YouTube sued for allegedly failing to enforce ban on animal abuse videos

YouTube has been accused in a lawsuit of supporting the "creation, production and circulation" of animal abuse videos by failing to remove them. 

The animal rights group Lady Freethinker filed a lawsuit against YouTube in California Superior Court, accusing it of breach of contract for failing to take action against animal abuse videos, The New York Times reports. The Google-owned platform's policies prohibit animal abuse, including videos of a "human maliciously causing an animal to experience suffering when not for traditional or standard purposes such as hunting or food preparation." Videos that feature "animal rescue that has been staged and places the animal in harmful scenarios" are also prohibited. 

Despite this, the Times reported that dozens of disturbing animal abuse videos were still live on YouTube as of Monday, in some cases having been up for years. 

"YouTube is aware of these videos and its role in distributing them, as well as its continuing support of their creation, production and circulation," the complaint says. "It is unfortunate that YouTube has chosen to put profits over principles of ethical and humane treatment of innocent animals." 

According to the Times, the nonprofit previously wrote to YouTube's chief executive in July to raise concerns about the company's "laissez faire" attitude toward enforcing its animal abuse ban. "We're knocking on the door, and nobody is answering," Lady Freethinker founder Nina Jackel said. "So this lawsuit is kind of a last straw." The nonprofit also sent a letter to the Justice Department, citing a law against distributing videos in which animals are "purposely crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury," with some exceptions including for hunting. 

A spokesperson for YouTube said it agrees that "content depicting violence or abuse toward animals has no place on" the platform and that it has removed hundreds of thousands of videos since expanding its policies against animal abuse this year.