Instagram to carry abuse warning for koala and tiger selfies

Angelica Greene
December 7, 2017

Instagram will add content warnings to any wildlife selfies that use particular hashtags. "We're trying to do our part to educate them".

With their teddy bear frames and heart-melting faces, taking a selfie with a koala to upload to social media has become a mandatory part of any student's gap year.

Instagram's decision to post warnings on certain wildlife hashtags was made after World Animal Protection approached the social network with research showing a 292 per cent increase in the number of selfies with wild animals posted since 2014, according to the animal welfare nonprofit.

More often than not, these photos take advantage of attractive creatures that have been torn from their natural environment'. "Even if the cruelty isn't right in front of you, [there's] cruelty that's behind the scenes to get to that point".

Vacation snaps featuring cuddly koalas or elephant rides might seem cute, but Instagram wants to warn its users of the potential animal abuse going on under the surface of these operations. "A lot of these other issues are incredibly significant", Grein says. "It gives us a lot of hope moving forward". Starting today, Instagram is making it harder to find such content.

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These animals are often victims of the tourism industry, and paying for pictures with exotic animals may put them and endangered animals at risk, the guidelines explain. In 2012, Instagram banned accounts, images and hashtags dedicated to "glorifying, promoting or encouraging self-harm", such as "Thinspiration" photos that depict extremely thin women to encourage users to lose weight.

"For Instagram to really step up now and recognize it and take strong measures, I think is very significant", he concluded.

The in the United States, though the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did briefly lift a ban on trophies from legally hunted elephants last month before President Trump put the decision on hold on November 17. "And it will set an important yardstick for others in social media to think about and follow". Instagram isn't saying which terms will trigger the flags, though, as it wants users to discover them on their own.

But some people might wonder why it's "harmful" to hold and take a picture with these animals.

"The majority are really unaware of a lot of the bad conditions and frightful treatment that wild animals experience, so that we can really capture special vacation selfies".

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