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Challenging the Government’s Censorship of Animal Advocates’ Speech on Social Media

October 4, 2021

In the US, it is estimated that 100,000,000 animals are used for testing/research YEARLY. Approximately 95-99% are not afforded any legal “protections” under the Animal Welfare Act and are therefore not required to be reported (thus the estimate). Of the few who do receive “protections” under AWA, they still suffer, experience pain and fear, and violently die; sadly, they are often subjected to INTENTIONAL PAIN as it is theorized that pain relief would compromise testing outcomes. These animals include dogs, cats, and primates, totaling >56,000 victims REPORTED, neglecting the vast majority who are not afforded even the illusion of existence by mandated recording of their suffering, pages 7-8:

Animal exploiters DETEST social media for giving activists a platform to publicize the violence they inflict on vulnerable animals, who all experience pain, fear, and suffering as human animals do. If the law doesn’t prevent humans from violent exploitation of animals, then it cannot exempt humans for exposing these criminal, unethical acts.

And to the indignant who equate animal suffering with human health, do remember the negative consequences and fatalities of pharmaceuticals that were considered safe as the result of testing them on different species: thalidomide was a tragedy, and saccharine, which was found to cause cancer in rats, is still marketed to humans. If humans claim human superiority as a validation for condoning animal experimentation, perhaps those “intellectual giants” can determine more effective research methods that do not violently kill billions of animals, a rather contradictory “means” to an uncertain “end”.

Some states have enacted student rights to not use animals in education, determine if you have Student Choice Laws via AAVS HERE or NAVS HERE

Free dissection alternatives via Science Bank HERE

Do note that even if you do not have a Student Choice Law, still raise your concern; sometimes just a brief message is sufficient, such as, “I am ethically opposed to dissection but will perform an educationally-equivalent exercise instead.” SL

Source Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF)

The Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit on behalf of animal advocates who’ve been prevented from posting critical comments regarding animal experimentation on the Health and Human Services (HHS) otherwise public social media pages. The HHS is primarily charged with funding and promoting research on animals. Animals Used in Research 

In September 2021, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and coalition partners filed a lawsuit against the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) over their censorship of critical comments concerning testing on animals on their official Facebook and Instagram accounts.

The NIH and HHS use keyword-blocking tools to automatically hide user comments that surface the use of nonhuman primates and other animals in research. Words blocked from appearing on the NIH’s social media pages include “animal,” “primate,” “monkey,” “chimpanzee,” “cats,” “mice,” “cruel,” and “experiment,” and blocked hashtags include “#StopAnimalTesting.” The HHS’ social media accounts also block comments containing the word “monkey.”

The Animal Legal Defense Fund alleges that the government’s keyword blocking imposes a viewpoint-based burden that prevents animal advocates from meaningfully adding to or engaging with the public discourse on these government-run social media channels. Because the government’s censorship targets people who hold a particular point of view — an opposition to animal testing — the lawsuit argues that the government is violating these speakers’ First Amendment rights by hiding their speech on this topic. Not only do the government’s actions in this case violate plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights, but they also prevent the public from being able to read and engage with other users whose comments may be hidden because they contain blocked keywords — a burden on the public’s ability to hear others’ speech.

Multiple courts have held that government-run social media accounts that allow users to comment and engage with others’ comments and contributions on government accounts are considered “public forums” akin to a town hall or meeting. The lawsuit seeks to stop the NIH and HHS from blocking comments based on their anti-animal-testing views.

In addition to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the coalition that filed the lawsuit includes the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Who is being sued, why, and under what law? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), for violating the plaintiffs’ constitutionally protected right to free speech.

What court is the lawsuit filed in? The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Why is this case is important? Animals used in research have few protections under the law; indeed, most animals in U.S. laboratories effectively have no legal protections at all. Research facilities operate without sufficient oversight into their animal-care procedures, and the public is given little to no information concerning the way these animals are treated. The voices of animal advocates are a critical part of the public discourse about animal experimentation.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund works to protect animals from inhumane treatment and safeguard the rights of those who advocate on their behalf or speak out about abuse. The NIH and HHS are infringing on the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights by denying them the opportunity to engage in protected speech on a government-run public forum.

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We stand in defiance against pseudoscience

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 4, 2021 4:39 am

    We stand in defiance against pseudoscience

    Liked by 1 person


  1. World Animals Voice

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