Brooklyn Cat Cafe’s resident ‘kitties’ produce video to combat misinformation
Samantha Bee filmed part of show at Brooklyn Heights feline haven
After comedian Samantha Bee on her show “Full Frontal” last Thursday evening did a comedy bit about cute images of cats that are used to spread misinformation online, especially from anti-vaxxers, the cats and kittens at the Brooklyn Cat Cafe in Brooklyn Heights put out their own video to emphasize that they, too, are very much against any such nefarious schemes.
Bee filmed part of her show in the Brooklyn Cat Cafe itself, at 76 Montague St. As a joke, she tried to spread misinformation of her own, typing “Dogs Cause Climate Change” into her laptop, but a cat ran across the keyboard in disgust.
In the serious part of her show, Bee interviewed several experts who commented on the phenomenon, first reported by The New York Times, that cat and kitten videos are used to spread false information about COVID and vaccines.
Cat videos themselves, of course, don’t contain such nefarious messages, but when users keep accessing them from a problematic source, “content misinformation keeps filtering in,” Laura Edelson, NYU researcher and PhD candidate, told Bee.
What can users do? Renee DeResta, a technical research manager at Stanford University, told Bee, “If something on the internet is trying to make you emotional, it’s time to take a step back and say, `Who is trying to make me emotional?’ and maybe take a screen shot.”
According to a statement from the Brooklyn cat cafe, “In response to the accusations that feline cuteness aids in the spread of dangerous falsehoods, a group of young, tech-savvy kittens have produced a video response viewable on Instagram at @catcafebk.”
The video temporarily renames some of the cafe’s cats with names like Hoax, Fake News and Misinformation. They spread messages like “vaccines are safe and effective.” One group of cats is seen next to a sign saying “Vaxxed and Released.”
While the cats are pictured playing and interacting with each other on the screen, messages tell people watching the video that virus-borne diseases like COVID, rabies and feline panleukopenia kill “millions of cats and people every year,” and that vaccines are a good way to prevent them.
Responding to claims by some that Invermectin protects one against COVID, the video says that Invermectin is “wonderful when used to kill ear mites and other parasites that cats might get outside,” but it’s not an effective tool against viruses.
The video ends with the lettering, “Paid by Kitties for the Truth.”
The Brooklyn Cat Cafe describes itself as “the only non-profit cat cafe in New York City. We are a cat adoption center and social space run by the Brooklyn Animal Welfare Coalition, an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) rescue group.”
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