Is YouTube promoting the exotic pet trade? Analysis of the global public perception of popular YouTube videos featuring threatened exotic animals

Georgia Kate Moloney, Jonathan Tuke, Eleonora Dal Grande, Torben Nielsen, Anne Lise Chaber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The exploitation of threatened exotic species via social media challenges efforts to regulate the exotic pet trade and consequently threatens species conservation. To investigate how such content is perceived by the global community, mixed model sentiment analysis techniques were employed to explore variations in attitudes expressed through text and emoji usage in public comments associated with 346 popular YouTube® videos starring exotic wild cats or primates in ‘free handling’ situations. Negative interactions between wild cats and primates with other species were found to be associated with both text and emoji median sentiment reduction, however were still accompanied by a median emoji sentiment above zero. Additionally, although a negative trend in median text sentiment was observed in 2015 for primates, an otherwise consistent positive median text and emoji sentiment score through time across all IUCN Red List categories was revealed in response to both exotic wild cat and primate videos, further implying the societal normalisation and acceptance of exotic pets. These findings highlight the urgency for effective YouTube® policy changes and content management to promote public education and conservation awareness, whilst extinguishing false legitimisation and demand for the exotic pet trade.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0235451
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS One
Volume16
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Exotic pet trade
  • threatened species
  • YouTube
  • public perception

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