Instagram to educate users on potential wildlife abuse hashtags

Joanna Estrada
December 5, 2017

Instagram did not specify exactly what type of hashtags would trigger the warning, but it will be shown in English, Thai, Indonesian, and languages from other countries where taking pictures with the wildlife is a common thing.

It comes after the charity launched a Wildlife Selfie Code for tourists to learn how to take a photos with wild animals without fuelling cruelty.

Instagram has implemented a new notification that will be sent to users who search the app for photos using various wildlife hashtags, such as #slothselfie and #koalahug. More than 3,000 posts with #koalaselfie already exist on the platform, but Instagram won't be banning the photos. Instead, the new warning is meant to educate users about their interactions with the environment.

"The protection and safety of the natural world are important to us and our global community". You will now get a content advisory screen whenever you will search for hashtags or photos/videos associated with harmful behavior to animals or the environment. In July, dating app Tinder asked users not to use selfies with tigers in their profiles, at the urging of PETA. More often than not, these photos take advantage of attractive creatures that have been torn from their natural environment.

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. The worse part is that tourists do not know if the attractions they're visiting treat the animals well or not.

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

For now, the move is meant to raise awareness and, perhaps, stop people from posting photos that show animals (like sloths and koalas) engaging with humans in any way that could be distressing to the animal. But it may help in spreading the message about protecting wildlife from exploitation. It's working with a number of organizations including the World Wildlife Fund and Traffic on enforcement. In fact, there have been pop-ups for searches related to suicide, self-harm, and eating disorders.

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