REAL FACES OF ANIMAL RIGGHTS, animal welfare, animal rights, virtual reality, iFARMING, PETA, HSUS
Animal rights groups are resorting to virtual-reality films in a bid to expose animal cruelty. /Picture source: Newsweek

Activists make virtual reality films to expose alleged cruelty – but are accused of making fake films

ANIMAL rights groups are resorting to virtual-reality films in a bid to expose animal cruelty.

But the new tactic has been labelled “fake” with viewers left in doubt about their accuracy.

Animal Equality became the first animal rights organisation to adopt VR technology, calling their films ‘iAnimal’.

Groups such as the Humane Society and Direct Action Everywhere have since followed suit.

Direct Action Everywhere recently released a VR video that takes viewers into barns at Circle Four Farms in Milford, Utah.

The video depicts piglets nibbling on their deceased siblings and pregnant pigs gnawing on their cage bars.

Owned by Smithfield Foods, Circle Four is one of the largest pork producers in the United States.

Keira Lombardo, a spokeswoman for Smithfield, said the video had “blatant inaccuracies”, such as its claim that the animals shown in the video are being starved.

“This video, which appears to be highly edited and even staged, is an attempt to leverage a new technology to manufacture an animal care issue where one does not exist,” she wrote.

Lombardo also fired back at Direct Action for taking two piglets from the farm on which they were trespassing.

“The video’s creators, who claim to be animal care advocates, risked the life of the animal they stole and the lives of the animals living on our farms”, she said.

Smithfield had outside auditors – Barry N. Pittman, Utah’s state veterinarian, and Jennifer Woods, a veterinarian and livestock-handling expert – conduct an investigation at Circle Four. The investigation found no animal mistreatment.

However, the widespread use of virtual reality by animal rights activists is unlikely to take off the ground any time soon.

Not only is the equipment required to film VR videos bulky and expensive, few people even have the technology to watch it.

Virtual-reality is not the only technology that has been used by animal rights activists to misleading effect.

Earlier this year, PETA faced backlash after attempting to distribute a computer-generated video of a cat being abused. The online news outlet Mashable criticised PETA’s attempt to “knowingly publish the fake video in an effort to make a lie go viral”, calling it a “breath-taking new low”.

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