The Save Movement and Social Media
Social media is becoming an increasingly important tool for the animal protection movement, especially for those engaged in grassroots advocacy. Yet the real impact of this online activity on the attitudes and behaviors of humans towards animals is less clear. This study, carried out by Faunalytics, sheds light on the topic by examining the impact of The Save Movement’s social media presence.
The Save Movement is best known for its vigils that bear witness to the suffering of animals on their way to slaughter. In 2015, Faunalytics worked with Toronto Pig Save as part of our Grassroots Research Fund to explore aspects relating to their work. The results of an online survey enabled us to assess the following two issues: 1) How is The Save Movement’s social media work impacting attitudes and behaviors among its followers?; and 2) What are some of the most impactful aspects of The Save Movement’s social media presence? The findings reflect the important work that Save Movement groups are carrying out online, and also point to a number of interesting and actionable results.
Attitudes and Behaviors
While The Save Movement may be largely “preaching to the choir” on social media with close to three-quarters of participants reporting that they already eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, the findings indicate that its social media work has a role in helping to retain ethical eaters and fuel their activism. For omnivores, The Save Movement’s online efforts appear to be encouraging modifications to meat eaters’ diets and planting seeds for future change.
The findings show that The Save Movement has been able to successfully foster an awareness on social media about the individuality and plight of animals raised for food. Meanwhile, the biggest barrier that its online followers cite for not getting involved in bearing witness to slaughter-bound animals was due to the fear that it would be too emotionally upsetting.
Participants responded well to the variety of mediums that The Save Movement uses to share information on social media. Photos and (to a slightly lesser extent) videos were highly rated among respondents, as was content that featured animals on their own, followed very closely by content showing advocates interacting with animals. When it comes to different species of farmed animals featured in The Save Movement’s social media posts, pigs were most commonly cited as having an impact, followed by cows, and then chickens. Participants reported having less exposure to, and being less impacted by, content showing turkeys and ducks.
There are a variety of aspects to The Save Movement’s work including drawing attention to the presence of a slaughterhouse in a community, being inclusive and welcoming to all, using a peaceful/non-violent approach, etc. The overwhelming majority of all these aspects were ranked as being beneficial by their social media followers.
Sometimes The Save Movement’s social media content can be emotionally disturbing. Around a fifth of participants say they avoid looking at the pictures/videos of animals because they find them upsetting. Meanwhile, nearly a third of respondents said that compared to pictures and videos of animals on farms and in slaughterhouses, The Save Movement’s pictures are videos are less upsetting to look at.
The report also offers a detailed section that compares how vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores receive The Save Movement’s social media messages. It aims to identify differences among the groups of recipients to offer suggestions about how message content can be modified to effectively target omnivores.
Though the sample size of this survey is only a small proportion of The Save Movement’s social media following as a whole, the results nonetheless offer an insight into how the work of this fast-growing part of the animal protection movement is being received on social media platforms.