Instagram issues abuse warnings over animal selfies

Protecting Wildlife and Nature from Exploitation – Instagram

You'll see if when viewing these flagged hashtags, but users posting photos under the same hashtags will not receive the warning.

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

Though there are plenty of people who don't give two shits about the safety of animals when it comes to furthering their brand, Instagram is hoping these notifications will help to educate people who don't know about the negative ramifications of riding an elephant while overseas.

Instagram compiled the list of animal hashtags over the space of several months with input from the World Animal Protection, World Wildlife Fund, and TRAFFIC - an organisation that works alongside the WWF to monitor the trade of wildlife.

According to WAP numerous animals who tourists take photos with are stolen from their natural habitat and are then kept in cramped conditions and passed around from tourist to tourist, causing them extreme stress.

The hashtags that trigger the Instagram warnings are in the hundreds, in English and in the local languages of countries like Thailand and Indonesia, where illicit wildlife practices have become endemic.

Tinder pledged to donate $10,000 to Project Cat, a partnership between Discovery Communications and the World Wildlife Foundation to protect tigers and their habitat. "It aims to teach people who might not otherwise know that their actions can encourage activities in the tourism industry that are harmful to animals". More than 3,000 posts with #koalaselfie already exist on the platform, but Instagram won't be banning the photos.

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The company isn't revealing all the hashtags associated with the message in the hope that some of its 800 million users will stumble on it organically.

Instagram is far from the only app to have a wildlife photo problem.

A boy snuggles a young sloth in Puerto Alegria, Peru, a tiny town on the Amazon River where dozens of wild animals are kept illegally in captivity for tourists to handle and take selfies with.

Instagram is taking a big stand against animal cruelty and lending its powerful voice to the animals who don't have one with a new alert system.

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. It's the interaction, wildlife experts say.

Mr Staples also said that the warning was a "really positive step forward" for NSW in particular, so no wildlife organisations in the state allow people to hold koalas. It can be very stressful, Koenen says, but it's hard for people to observe the effects in the animal they're handling.

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