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Instagram launches new selfie warning system to combat animal cruelty

February 24, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Instagram launches new selfie warning system to combat animal cruelty

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Instagram has launched a new warning system that pops up whenever a user uses a hashtag that could be associated with harmful animal cruelty.

The system is being implemented following incidents such as the death of a baby dolphin at the hands of selfie-taking tourists on a beach in Argentina earlier this year.

The social network, which had 800 million monthly users as of September, collaborated with World Animal Protection, World Wildlife Fund and wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC on the new method.

The message will pop up when users search hashtags such as #koalaselfie and #slothselfie.

“Animal cruelty and the sale of endangered animals or their parts is not allowed on Instagram. You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals,” the Instagram pop-up states.

When you buy a #koalamattress a portion of your purchase to donated to the @portmacquariekoalahospital and @wwf to protect, and care for koalas 🐨 (credit: @portmacquariekoalahospital)

A post shared by Koala (@koala) on

Users can also connect to a page with information on wildlife exploitation.

Instagram’s decision was influenced by World Animal Protection’s Wildlife Selfie Code, which urges people to avoid taking selfies that could hurt animals. To date, more than 250,000 people have signed up.

“We’ve been working with Instagram, one of the world’s biggest social sites, to show that it’s wrong to take animals out of their habitats for photo opportunities,” World Animal Protection said in a statement.

Press reports have also brought this issue into the spotlight. In October, for instance, National Geographic reported on the harmful effects of “selfie safaris” on wildlife in the Amazon.

In January, the New York Times also reported on the utilization of social media for illicit wildlife transactions.

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