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PETA’s new formula: deception, manipulation, and fake animal abuse

By June 7, 2017June 20th, 2017Responsible Ownership
Update, June 7, 1:30 pm: This story’s been updated to include an official statement issued by PETA via their website in response to Mashable’s reporting.  PETA has hit a breathtaking new low.

The animal-rights group has produced a disturbing new video that depicts a cat suffering at the hands of its owner. It’s difficult to watch. It’s also completely fake.

But it looks real; it is a skilled CGI work clearly meant to deceive viewers. Now, PETA is trying to enlist complicit media organizations to knowingly publish the fake video in an effort to make the lie go viral.

Press Kitchen, a PR agency, approached Mashable via email with the story late last week, completely unprompted, and we initially ignored the pitch. The agency pitched the idea in two additional emails.

Now, given the nature of the effort and the scourge of misinformation in 2017 — combined with the fact that the video is truly bizarre and gross — we’re making this fake campaign public. We contacted PETA for comment on the video, but did not receive a response by publication time.

Following the publication of this story, PETA put out a statement on their website the next day, which read in part:

The PR company approached Mashable and shared their idea. Mashable didn’t like it.

We should note here that the issue isn’t that “Mashable didn’t like it” so much as that we here at Mashable don’t take kindly to being approached for partnership on a shady, ethically ass-backwards marketing campaign. But also, yeah, sure: We’re not fans of animal abuse videos, fake or otherwise.

The statement, continued:

When we heard yesterday afternoon that Mashable wasn’t interested, we regrouped and decided to launch it ourselves in a single video as a clearly-labelled parody so that there would be no confusion. We decided this because of the concerns Mashable raised. We were taken aback last night by Mashable’s story and frankly surprised that Mashable didn’t wait for our response, particularly as the video had not even been publicly released.

In the clip, a man demands that his cat do tricks. The animal is computer-generated, though it’s pretty convincing. He commands it to sit on its hind legs and jump between stools. When it fails, he slaps it across the face multiple times.The cat eventually runs away in fear.

The video is labeled “NEVER RELEASE: Cat Tricks.”