Instagram to flag hashtags that can hurt animals

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

Instagram will show pop-up alerts to users who use hashtags that might be associated with the abuse of wildlife the company said Monday. Insights

Instagram is not the first app to take a stand against wildlife pictures, with online dating app Tinder requesting that people not use "tiger selfies" as their profile pictures.

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

World Animal Protection says there's been a 292 per cent increase in selfies with wild animals since 2014 - and 40 per cent of those showed "bad interactions" like hugging or holding wildlife.

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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.

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

In October, a Ukranian Instagram user sparked outrage among animal lovers when she posted her cat while it was getting a tattoo. This alert system - which thus far seems specifically tailored to abuse against wildlife - will send users a warning message if a hashtag they search can be related to cruelty to animals. Instagram also set up a page in its Help Center to educate users about the exploitation of wild animals.

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According to CNN, if you search for hashtags like #lionselfie, #koalaselfie, #koalahugs or #tigerpet - either by clicking on it or directly typing it in - a warning will pop up. "And then when the animal gets too big they sell it, sometimes for body parts", he said. "If someone's behavior 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 there's a problem with this photo", she said.

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. This would surely make you want to reconsider uploading vacation pictures of you riding an elephant during your vacation in Thailand on social media.

"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]", says Crawford Allan, senior director of TRAFFIC at the World Wildlife Fund. The reality is these wild animals are suffering terribly, both in front of and behind the camera.

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