Animal Suffering – Conversations in the Online Media Space| Part 1 | Introduction

The Research and Importance

With 2.20 billion monthly active Facebook users as of March 31, 2018, the likely hood of you having an active Facebook account is high (Facebook 2018). Have you ever scrolled down your Facebook feed and seen a video involving animals that you did not feel comfortable with or that you saw others were not comfortable with? I know that I have and have even reported the content to Facebook before. In the world of the globalised internet sphere, audiences can unknowingly and knowingly in counter and interacted with ethically and morally ambiguous content. In BCM312’s week four topic of animal suffering I started to wonder how controversial animal videos in the online media space are received and viewed by the online audience. More broadly, how significant is social media in the developing animal rights conversation occurring around the globe?

Image: Courier Mail 2017

Organisations such RSPCA Australia, PETA and the Animal Legal Defence Fund have all recognised and discussed the impact that the internet has had on animal abuse cases, including RSPCA’s use of social media to find individuals who are hunting animals illegally. The Animal Legal Defence Fund has also compiled a list, which will be examined in the next blog, detailing what to do and what not to do when one encounters instances of animal abuse shared online.

This has led to developing the following research question in order to explore this phenomenon from a social media platforms audience perspective:

‘According to a sample of eleven public Facebook conversations from the time period of 2017 – 2018. What response are social media user exhibiting to video posts featuring animals that are potentially suffering?’


Through examining the conversations that the users of the social media website Facebook have, according to the sample of posts and through the secondary research. This research into the sampled conversations and documents is hypothesised to highlight the need for a different, educated and clearer approach within the online space to ensure that an audience’s role and interactions are constructive with controversial online animal video content. It is also hypothesised that there will be an evident need for further research in this subject area to continue to prevent animals from being harmed on social media.

Method and Presentation of Research

A document analysis method is planned to be used for this research alongside relevant secondary research.

Image: O’Leary

A document analysis as defined by O’Leary 2010, as a method where there is a collection, review and analysis of written text as a primary source of research data (p. 223). This method is particularly useful when studying a single phenomenon, producing rich descriptions (Bowen 2009, p. 29) The document analysis will be of the eleven public posts found on Facebook from January 2017 till May 2018. These posts will be analysed in the manner recommended by O’Leary through their style, tone, agenda, opinions and facts (p. 224). The document analysis will be further examined and analysed with reference to the sampled secondary research discussed in the second blog.

The research will be detailed in three essay-style blog posts. There are various stakeholders involved with and impacted on by this research. These stakeholders include public policy creators and/or enforcers, those in the area of psychology and the study of human behaviour, media professionals, online media law/policy creators, the online audience/general public and lastly those involved in the area of animal rights. Using this platform, I can connect with my BCM cohort on this blog and, with it being online, for the public and all interested stakeholders to view. This research will be split into three blogs. The first, this one you are reading, an introduction to the research, the second a discussion of the sampled conversations and other resources and finally the third a summary of the research and future considerations.

See you in research blog number two and kind regards,

Mem xox


Bowen, G 2009, ‘Document Analysis as a Qualitative Research Method’, Qualitative Research Journal, vol. 9, no. 2, viewed 06 May 2018, < https://doi.org/10.3316/QRJ0902027&gt;

O’Leary, Z 2010, The Essential Guide to Doing Your Research Project, SAGE Publications, London.


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