Animal Rights Movement in the United States
This article on “Animal Rights Movement in the United States” examined four organizations’ persuasion techniques used on their social media platforms, along with audience targeting strategies. An examination of the four organizations’ websites and social media posts allowed for the placement of the groups along a spectrum, demonstrating: (1) which organizations posted extreme messaging and in what ways; (2) which organizations appeared to speak to their bases versus those that spoke to a wider audience; (3) which organizations provided resources for people to make the switch to veganism versus those that did not
Videos of vegan activists demonstrating both inside and outside of eateries, supermarkets, and public spaces are frequently seen on YouTube. There are also numerous videos of vegans criticizing celebrities, social media stars, and fitness instructors for their meat-eating habits, frequently using footage from slaughterhouses to argue for the morality of the meat industry or research from medical journals to argue for the risks that eating meat poses to a person’s health.
To remind people why they shouldn’t eat animal products, some of these activists even publish recordings of slaughterhouse footage during their “call-out” videos of famous personalities. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) may be seen showing horrifying photos of the Holocaust against a still photo of a slaughterhouse (CNN, 2003). In order to “convert” someone to a vegan lifestyle, Nick Cooney, founder of the Humane League and vice president of Mercy for Animals, advises taking a psychological approach.
“If we want to influence other people, we need to know how they work,” he writes in his book Change of Heart (2011, p. 11). A person should go away from the talk thinking, he advises his audience during an animal rights convention in Denmark in 2013. The proof of the harm caused by consuming animal products that Cooney also presented to conference attendees is nearly identical to the proof offered by organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). However, their tone and framing stand out as being different.
Given the media attention PETA has received, many people may be aware of its communication strategies, but not all animal rights activists adopt the same strategies or frame them in the same way. Some groups, like as Mercy for Animals, preach a more balanced message and exclude the word “vegan” entirely from their discourse. Some activist organizations, like PETA, create imagery equating human tragedies like the Jewish Holocaust and the Transatlantic Slave Trade with the cruel living circumstances of farm animals.