Instagram Creates New Feature to Fight Animal Abuse

A brown-throated sloth. Instagram will show popup alerts to users who use hashtags that might be associated with the abuse of wildlife the company said Monday

However, Instagram says it does remove images that depict animal abuse or the sale of endangered animals, and is working with organizations including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and TRAFFIC on enforcement. Only then can you see posts, learn more or cancel the operation.

On Monday, the popular photo-sharing platform announced that anyone searching for those posts using hashtags will be shown a warning that these seemingly innocent photos are often associated with harmful behavior toward wildlife.

Tinder, specifically, has an abundance of tiger selfies, which, like any selfie with wildlife, have a violent and dark side that the public doesn't see.

WAP chief executive Steve McIvor said: "We congratulate Instagram on taking this important step towards educating its users about wild animals that are suffering for selfies".

Instagram will begin to issue warnings about taking selfies with animals.

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.

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Cassandra Koenen, who worked with Instagram to compile the list as part of her work with World Animal Protection, told National Geographic: "If someone's behaviour 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 that there's a problem with this photo'".

This is a good reminder that most wild animals do not want to take a photo with you, unless they're being baited with food, drugged, or beaten into submission. The presence of these types of images has skyrocketed 292 percent on social media since 2014, according to World Animal Protection.

The warnings were added earlier this week to thousands of photos already on the site. The website now bans images related to animal cruelty and abuse, as well as images that aim to sell endangered species through the social media website.

The message is aimed at the "wildlife selfie" trends, in which tourists take photos with exotic animals like koalas, sloths, elephants and tigers.

Paris Hilton took a photo with a koala a week ago. Starting today, Instagram is making it harder to find such content. It has warnings for other topics including self-harm and eating disorders. Of course, the casual user may not realize the cute pictures are exploitative, but Instagram hopes to change that.

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