Published: Tue, December 05, 2017
Science | By Hubert Green

Instagram Combats Animal Cruelty By Banning Selfies With Exotic Animals

Instagram Combats Animal Cruelty By Banning Selfies With Exotic Animals

According to National Geographic (NG), Instagram was prompted to take action after an investigation by NG and World Animal Protection into the growing industry of problematic wildlife tourism in the Amazon found "animals being illegally captured from the rain forest, kept in cages, and hauled out for well-meaning tourists to hold and take selfies with".

Hundreds of hashtags in a few different languages will prompt the notification, which you can read below.

When users try to search for a photo featuring phrases such as #Koalahugs or #Tigerselfie, they will be greeted with a message saying the hashtag "may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behaviour to animals or the environment".

Most people who trek in the jungles take photos of captive animals, like koalas, dolphins, lions, and tigers.

"We care about our community, including the animals and the wildlife that are an important part of the platform", Instagram spokeswoman Emily Cain said. You'll see if when viewing these flagged hashtags, but users posting photos under the same hashtags will not receive the warning. The campaign brought much-needed attention to how taking selfies with wild animals is anything but cute and 250,000 people signing the organization's pledge.

The warning also will pop-up for hashtags that advertise the sale of exotic animals or animal parts, according to Instagram.

"Social media has not yet really woken up to the full scale and extent of the nature of illegal wildlife trade that's being used and promoted [on social networks]". The worse part is that tourists do not know if the attractions they're visiting treat the animals well or not.

This isn't the first time that Instagram has implemented a notification when users search for certain hashtags.

Celebrities including socialite Paris Hilton and reality start Khloe Kardashian have been roundly criticised for posing for pictures with chimpanzees and orangutans at private zoos by the UN's Great Apes Survival Partnership, who branded them "chumps with chimps" a year ago. Many animals people most want to cuddle, like sloths, don't do well being repeatedly handled. But it may help in spreading the message about protecting wildlife from exploitation.

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