Instagram issues abuse warnings over animal selfies

07 December, 2017, 03:08 | Author: Sergio Cook
  • Protecting Wildlife and Nature from Exploitation – Instagram

Users of the social media platform are now shown a message against animal exploitation when searching for hashtags that refer to wild animal abuse.

"Animal abuse and the sale of endangered animals or their parts is not allowed on Instagram", it reads.

Simply put, for people looking for animal cruelty images and clips, whether they consider them amusing, entertaining or interesting, Instagram asks them to look elsewhere.

A screen shot of a content advisory launch on December 4, 2017 by Instagram to educate users about the dangers selfies can pose to wildlife.

"We care about our community, including the animals and the wildlife that are an important part of the platform", says Instagram spokeswoman Emily Cain. For example, searches for hashtags such as #thinspiration will launch a warning about the dangers of eating disorders.

If someone's behavior is interrupted, hopefully they'll think, maybe there's something more here, or maybe I shouldn't just automatically like something or forward something or repost something if Instagram is saying to me there's a problem with this photo.

What might seem like a cute photo op with an adorable animal could actually involve harm and possible death to wildlife, while also creating a market for those who seek to exploit them, wildlife advocates say.

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The decision followed an investigation by National Geographic and World Animal Protection into wildlife tourism.

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.

The warnings were added earlier this week to thousands of photos already on the site.

Photos of sleepy sloths and curled-up koalas - especially when featured in a selfie - are often considered Instagram gold, guaranteed to attract "likes" and comments.

With their teddy bear frames and heart-melting faces, taking a selfie with a koala to upload to social media has become a mandatory part of any student's gap year. The craze for tourists taking selfies alongside wild animals then posting on Instagram is fueling cruel treatment of iconic species in the Amazon, activists warn. "Even if the cruelty isn't right in front of you, [there's] cruelty that's behind the scenes to get to that point". Starting today, Instagram is making it harder to find such content.

Instagram hopes to make users think twice about what's going on behind the picture.

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