Circulating message that features a photograph depicting pigs confined to very small cages claims that the photograph was taken on an American factory farm and that the pigs are kept in the tight cages so that they will fatten up more quickly because their movement is restricted.
The photograph is genuine but the description is inaccurate. The photograph was taken not in the United States, but in China several years ago. Moreover, the pigs have been placed in cages not to fatten them, but to transport them to market. Certainly, the treatment of pigs and other farm animals has raised great concern among people from all around the world. However, to be effective, messages protesting such treatment need to contain accurate and up-to-date information.
This very sad & disturbing photo was taken at a US factory farm. These poor pigs are confined to cages that severely limit their movement so that they will fatten up quickly. Please share this photo with as many people as possible so we can increase awareness of the importance of buying certified organic products & preventing the unnecessary suffering of all farm animals.
This message, which features a photograph depicting several pigs cruelly confined in very tight cages, is currently circulating rapidly via social media. According to the message, the photograph was taken on a factory farm in the United States. The message claims that the pigs are kept in the tiny cages to restrict their movement so that they will fatten more quickly.
The photograph itself is genuine. However, the description that comes with the photograph contains false information. The photograph was not taken on a farm in the United States. And the pigs are not kept in the tiny cages shown in the photograph to fatten them up more quickly.
In fact, the photograph was taken in May 2007, not in the US, but in China’s Guangdong province. The same photograph appears on the Reuters news pictures website with the following caption:
Pigs are prepared for transportation to a market in Baizhu county of Zhaoqing, southern China’s Guangdong province May 8, 2007. A mysterious disease has killed thousands of pigs in China’s southern Guangdong province and authorities have disinfected affected farms, markets and abattoirs, several Hong Kong newspapers reported on Monday. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA) CHINA OUT
Certainly, the treatment of pigs and other farm animals has raised great concern among people from all around the world. And farm sows are often kept in tiny cages called gestation crates for months at a time while they are pregnant. A February 2012 Huffington Post article that discusses a Humane Society of the United States report on some factory farms notes:
For four months while pregnant, pigs are confined in gestation crates — two-foot by seven-foot metal cages. They’re moved to another crate to give birth, after which they’re impregnated again and put back into a gestation crate to repeat the cycle. This happens again and again, until the animals either die in their crates or can no longer breed at a profitable rate and are sent to slaughter. Each animal may spend up to three years locked in a crate, virtually immobilized for nearly her entire life.
Social media can be a powerful and effective means of raising awareness about issues such as the mistreatment of farm animals. However, to be effective, social media messages need to contain accurate and up-to-date information. Otherwise, as in this case, they will rapidly lose credibility and effectiveness as people realize that the information they contain is inaccurate.
Research by David White and Brett Christensen