Published: Tue, December 05, 2017
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Instagram to carry abuse warning for koala and tiger selfies

Instagram to carry abuse warning for koala and tiger selfies

"You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behaviour to animals or the environment".

The message is targeted at tourists who take photos with wild animals like lions, sloths and elephants as part of the "wildlife selfies" trend, embraced by celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Ariana Grande, Justin Timberlake and many others. You'll see if when viewing these flagged hashtags, but users posting photos under the same hashtags will not receive the warning.

Instagram worked with a number of conservation organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund, TRAFFIC, and World Animal Protection, in order to bring this change to its social network platform. Now, they want you to know that your selfie with a sedated monkey also likely qualifies as animal abuse, no matter how cute you both look.

So Instagram is sending a message against taking selfies with them that will pop up when users include hashtags like #koalaselfie.

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". I think it's important for the community right now to be more aware.

"So what's troubling about a photo of someone hugging a seemingly cuddly wild animal like a koala?"

It reads: "Protect Wildlife on Instagram: Animal abuse and the sale of endangered animals or their parts is not allowed on 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]". Those hashtags will still appear in search results.

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".

Apart from this type of images, Instagram has also added pop-up warnings for topics, like self-harm and eating disorders.

This Instagram gesture may not stop people from publishing photos with koalas.

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