Instagram introduces new feature to fight wildlife crime

Isaac Cain
December 7, 2017

"Animal abuse and the sale of endangered animals or their parts are not allowed on Instagram".

"Instagram will now deliver a pop-up message whenever someone searches or clicks on a hashtag like "#slothselfie".

"You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals or the environment", the warning reads. You can still view the photos but you can also choose to cancel your search or learn more from an Instagram help page.

If you search hashtags associated with images that could harm wildlife or the environment, it will post a warning before letting you proceed.

Today, Instagram is taking action to inform its users about the cruelty of taking selfies with wild animals, following an investigation by worldwide NGO, World Animal Protection. "I think it's important for the community right now to be more aware. And then when the animal gets too big they sell it, sometimes for body parts", he said.

Tinder and Instagram do not ban or remove these selfies.

The network claim that while people who are taking the photos may not actively be abusing the animals, many animals in captivity are cruelly and illegally captured from their habitats and kept in unacceptable conditions.

A new warning will pop up when visiting these hashtags.

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The list of hashtags was developed over several months in a collaborative effort with the World Wildlife Fund, TRAFFIC, a partner team of WWF that monitors the wildlife trade, and World Animal Protection. Now, they want you to know that your selfie with a sedated monkey also likely qualifies as animal abuse, no matter how cute you both look.

Instagram is not disclosing the hashtags it selected, as the company wants users to stumble on them organically. Instagram is taking action against the practice by providing in-app warnings and education.

These selfies are typically taken at tourist attractions around the world such as zoos, which present domesticated wild animals as "props".

But Instagram is cracking down on the trend after warnings that the animals subjected to photoshoots are the victims of cruelty.

They may get a message saying the photo may have been taken in abusive circumstances. It's the interaction, wildlife experts say.

Among the most popular photos, for instance, are those depicting a hug from a sloth, said Cassandra Koenen, the group's head of wildlife campaigns.

"When they're taken from the trees and forced to interact with humans, it's fearful", Koenen said.

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