Opinion: PETA Should Learn From Recent Social Media Backlash

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This is an opinion piece written by a contributor to The Titan Universe. It in no way represents the views of Titan Universe, Titian Communications, CSUF or its affiliates. To submit your own opinion piece, send submissions to sharpj@csu.fullerton.edu. We reserve the right to edit or refuse to publish any submissions.

February 22nd would have been late wildlife conservationist and TV personality Steve Irwin’s 57th birthday. To commemorate his birthday, Google changed their logo to honor him. The Google Doodle featured Irwin searching for crocodiles and feeding animals at the Australia zoo. However, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) criticized Irwin on Twitter – saying he was killed while harassing a stingray and that his actions were “not on target with his supposed message of protecting wildlife”.

The internet responded immediately.  People around the world defended The Crocodile Hunter, saying that he helped educate millions about rare animals. Fans have even taken to twitter to “roast” PETA for their words against Irwin.

PETA also faced extreme criticism when they spoke out against famous fashion designer, Karl Lagerfeld after he recently passed away. The organization said in a tweet, “Karl Lagerfeld has gone, and his passing marks the end of an era when fur and exotic skins were seen as covetable.” The internet also took to the fashion designers defense, saying that the organization was cruel in criticizing him after his death.

I completely understand what PETA stands for and I admire that they want to keep animals from being unnecessarily harmed. I think that they went about criticizing two legacies in the wrong way. It shows how petty that the organization is and even makes them look unprofessional. I think this just shows how the rise of social media make people feel like they can say anything they want without any consequences. Ideally, the backlash will have taught PETA to behave with more dignity, but only time will tell us if that’s true.

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