Just recently, in the US, Mark Zuckerberg was grilled by Congress again for Facebook’s role in the world. People aren’t trusting Facebook anymore, and the entire testimony felt like a reality show whereby lawmakers were convincing us, the end users, that Facebook’s going to be the next Skynet.
But recently, in Singapore, Facebook played a key role to bring down a claw machine that treats crabs like playthings, proving once again that its role in society isn’t just negative.
However, do you know that the claw machine would have been swept under the carpet if not for a Facebook Page that’s allegedly unrelated to the restaurant?
And that the owner is rather…popular on TV?
And that even the fake Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump have visited the restaurant before?
Here are ten facts about the live crab claw machine saga that everyone’s talking about now.
House of Seafood: The Restaurant That Breaks the Internet Regularly
What you might not know is that this isn’t the first time that the restaurant broke the Internet.
House of Restaurant is founded back in 2008 at Yio Chu Kang Road. It currently has an outlet in Punggol and a kiosk in Changi Airport, and also one outlet in Cambodia and Malaysia respectively. As the name suggests, it serves seafood, with its signature dishes being their crabs.
The restaurant does more than just serving food in their outlet: they’ve a catering arm and also sell ready-to-eat crabs. In fact, they’ve a vending machine at their outlet that dispenses RTE crabs hot in vacuum-sealed plastic boxes within 5 ½ minutes.
And that’s when the first broke the Internet: fake Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump were there to advertise their vending machine:
Pretty cool and innovative, isn’t it?
Well, read on because it gets even more “innovative”
“Dancing Auntie” is from the Restaurant
Bet you didn’t know that, do you?
In August last year, this video went extremely viral:
The reactions to the video were mixed: some applauded the auntie’s dance while others thought that she was being forced to do the dance.
Soon, the auntie responded, saying that she did it out of her “own sincere desire”.
In fact, the auntie even has a Facebook Page now, which was suddenly active again recently.
The owner of the restaurant said that he rewarded the auntie with a red packet after the video went viral.
Which brings us to the next point: who’s the owner?
Francis Ng, The Guy on the TV
No, we’re not talking about this Francis Ng.
But this Francis Ng:
If you find him familiar, that’s because you’ve watched the reality show China’s popular variety show If You Are The One, the TV version of Tinder.
The 47-year-old bachelor also participated a similar Singapore variety show, The Destined One, and his segment went viral after it was revealed that his date was attached prior to filming the show.
The owner claims that he came out with the idea of opening up a seafood restaurant to provide jobs for elderly who had to earn a living collecting cardboard.
Very noble, indeed. I’m starting six restaurants tomorrow as well after seeing elderly selling tissue paper in a hawker centre.
And just like any boss, he’s an important figure in the business. On his birthday, there’s a $50 off in all bills (minimum spend of $100) in the restaurant. That’s a large discount, indeed.
We’ve just proposed an idea to our editors: During our boss’ birthday, all our articles will be cut into half too. Because bosses are important.
Now, to the meat of the article: How did it all start?
Not Made Viral by Restaurant
Whether the restaurant has the intention for it to go viral is up to anyone’s guess.
But the fact’s that they’re not the one who made it viral, though they’ve an impressive 30K followers in their Facebook Page.
The live crab claw machine was announced in their Facebook Page earlier this month, and they posted a 12-second video of the machine on 13 October 2019.
The Internet filtered itself and didn’t bring it to everyone’s attention.
Then, SHOUT, a local lifestyle Facebook Page with over 168K followers, did a video about it on 22 October 2019 and it went extremely viral.
In fact, on the day the video was out, we received countless DMs and emails about it: not to suggest that we try it out but about the inhumane treatment of the crabs.
The video, as of now, has garnered well over 4.4K Shares 251K views.
That was also when SPCA noticed the claw machine.
But before that…what exactly is it and why are people so against it?
Live Crab Claw Machine That Sparked Conversation
The premise is simple: put lots of live crabs into a claw machine and let influencers with fake noses people catch the crabs.
It’ll cost $5 for a game, and if you catch one, you can get the restaurant to cook the crab for free.
The tank holding the crabs is apparently cushioned so that if the crabs fall after being caught, the drop and impact are minimised. You know, kind of like those WWE stage. The crabs’ pincers are tied up so that they can’t resist (or so I thought).
People aren’t happy that the crabs are being treated as toys—it was described as “inhumane treatment” and that the crabs shouldn’t have to go through this before they’re treated as food.
And SPCA agrees.
One day after the video was released, SPCA responded with a strongly worded PSA:
If you can’t read, here’s what they’ve written:
SAY NO TO LIVE CRAB CLAW MACHINE
A recent post by a local restaurant has been brought to our attention. In their claw machine, inanimate objects are replaced with live crabs for customers to lift and drop to ‘catch’ the crab(s) they want.
The game causes unnecessary harm to the animals and it also encourages people to see animals as nothing more than objects to play with and goes against our vision of a kinder society.
Crabs are living creatures, not toys. SPCA advises members of the public to not partake in such activities. We have reported this to AVS to ask them to shut this down.
To help raise awareness, please share this message with your friends and family.
Image credit: shout
If you’ve missed the key sentence, here’s it: We have reported this to AVS to ask them to shut this down.
So yeah, it’s not just lip service from SPCA.
AVS is Animal & Veterinary Service, a regulator by NParks that safeguards the health and welfare of animals. AVS, together with SFA (Singapore Food Agency), used to be AVA.
AVS is now investigating the incident, adding that they take “all feedback received from the public on animal cruelty seriously and will look into the cases reported…All forms of evidence are critical to the process and photographic and/or video-graphic evidence provided by the public will help.”
Restaurant Owner’s Response
With the outcry, you can bet that the owner’s going to respond.
And respond he did.
Yesterday, its Facebook Page posted this:
It obviously didn’t go well with the public: netizens didn’t believe that the real intention was for “education” since the crabs can be cooked for free.
And secondly…SPCA isn’t happy with the word “temporary”.
SPCA’s Response, Part 2
People who went to the restaurant saw that the machine is now “under maintenance”.
But SPCA wants it to be shut down completely.
In response to the restaurant’s latest actions, SPCA CEO said, “We appreciate this clarification and are very happy with this news. However, what we are asking for is a full and permanent stop to the use of this machine.”
In other words, the saga isn’t ended.
Claw Machine: Real or Rigged?
If you come to our app daily, you’d know that claw machines won’t win the Nobel Prize for being the most honest machine ever.
It’s because it’s widely believed that they are rigged.
It’s alleged that machines come with settings that allow the owners to decide when the grip would be tighter, and the number of times it’ll allow a win based on how much money has been earned. In one of our articles, we even showed you an instruction manual from a claw machine that teaches the owner how to program the win-ratio settings.
Of course we’re not saying that all claw machines are like that; it’s just a good to know thingy, because according to The Straits Times, only one customer has caught a crab while three to four have tried and failed.
That one customer…is it from the SHOUT team? #justwondering
First in Singapore But Not First in the World
While this has created quite a hoo-ha in Singapore, catching live seafood isn’t a first in the world.
It exists in other countries though it’s not common.
And of course, unless it goes viral, no one’s going to care.
So, the moral of this entire saga?
Facebook is bad and we all know that. But sometimes, it can do good, just like this incident.
Quiet Firing is a more serious issue than Quiet Quitting, because it could have all boiled down to one issue. Here’s the issue: