I’m serious. It’ll ruin your day. It will lower your opinion of humanity.
I’m sure there’s something more pleasant you can read to start your day.
OK, here we go. I warned you.
It’s monkey torture.
It’s a niche market on YouTube and the dark web, and in particular, Telegram, with it’s encrypted posts. People in places with lots of monkeys catch them, and then people in wealthy countries send them money with requests to do horrible things on video to them: hit them, stab them, drown them, decapitate them, throw them in a blender. By the way, these were all baby monkeys.
Kapetanich found half a dozen other monkeys on the YouTube like Mini. There was Monkey Ji, Baby Ciko, Chiro, Sweetpea, Mona — all baby long-tailed macaques being tortured on film. Some of the monkeys had developed physical tics from the stress. Monkey Ji was known for holding her head in her hands and rocking back and forth. Mini would grip her sides. The monkey haters in the comments loved it. “Abused multiple times a week since a baby. She has lived a TERRIBLE life,” someone wrote, approvingly, under a video of Mini. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a monkey more broken.”
By that point, hundreds of different YouTube channels were posting videos of baby macaques being abused. In some, the monkeys appeared to die on screen. “Watch them try to breathe while their idiotic brains shut down,” wrote one commenter. Lucy Kapetanich was horrified by what she saw. It hurt to watch as Mini’s owner cooed an Indonesian endearment — “sayang” — to her and then smacked her in the face. It all brought Kapetanich to tears more than once. But the monkey haters loved it.
“He sayang-ed Mini and then immediately smacked her!” wrote one, screen name “Grace”.
“Man I love those videos.”
You might wonder what kind of people get into this kind of stuff. One group on Telegram was called Ape’s Cage, and they seemed like ordinary people.
Ape’s Cage contained about 400 people. The cast of characters was a mixture of the strange and — even stranger — the seemingly normal, all known to one another by their screen names. There was the Torture King, who had invited Kapetanich in; there was “Sadistic”, a gas station attendant and grandmother in rural Alabama; there was “Bones”, a former US Air Force airman from Texas with a big collection of guns; and “Champei”, who caused chaos and infighting in every group he joined. There was “Trevor”, who couldn’t contribute during daytime hours because, “no phone at work, nuclear stuff”.
And it wasn’t just Americans, there were dedicated members in Europe and Australia. Among the cruellest contributors to the group was “The Immolator”, a 35-year-old woman who loved birds and lived with her parents in the English midlands.
The good news is these people were also rather stupid: they left clues to their identity all over the place, were freely talking about their personal life, their homes, their jobs, what they did in their spare time when they weren’t watching someone take a power drill to a baby monkey. In the US, distributing animal torture porn videos is illegal, and some are now facing prison time. The police will sporadically crack down on this stuff, and some of the social media organizations are committed to removing torture porn. Some.
In a statement, YouTube told us that animal abuse had “no place” on the platform and the company was “working hard to quickly remove violative content”. “Just this year alone, we’ve removed hundreds of thousands of videos and terminated thousands of channels for violating our violent and graphic policies,” the statement said. Telegram told us it was “committed to protecting user privacy and human rights such as freedom of speech”, adding that its moderators “cannot proactively patrol private groups”.
Of course Telegram is committed to free speech über alles. That’s much more important than the ongoing suffering of a lot of “tree rats.”
Humans just kind of suck.