Why would we believe them? Meat consumers’ reactions to online farm animal welfare activism in Australia

EA Buddle, HJ Bray, RA Ankeny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Web of Science)


The use of social media by animal activist organisations is of interest to those in the livestock production industries because of the perceived increased use and effectiveness of this medium for influencing consumers. Using qualitative data derived from focus groups and interviews, we explore how Australian meat consumers interact with animal welfare activism content posted to social media, either by activist organisations or members of the participants’ networks. Results indicate that meat consumers dismiss online animal welfare activism due to a perceived lack of credibility and being associated with a vegetarian or vegan ‘agenda’. Activists also were considered by participants to be ‘ignorant’, with participants suggesting they needed to experience animal farming first hand. Online activism was described as ‘slacktivism’ by our research participants, who felt that sharing something online does not create actual change in the real world and hence is not an authentic or meaningful form of activism. While farm animal welfare is of increasing concern to Australian consumers, this research suggests that information generated by activist organisations and shared via social media is unlikely to change meat eaters’ perceptions, at least in the current form in which it is being provided.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-260
Number of pages15
JournalCommunication Research and Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes


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