Published: Thu, December 07, 2017
Technology | By Russell Knight

Instagram Fights Illegal Wildlife Exploitation by Warning Users in App

Instagram Fights Illegal Wildlife Exploitation by Warning Users in App

The pop-up rebuke will also appear for searches for more egregious activities, like hashtags that advertise the sale of exotic animals or animal parts, the social media service says.

In honor of Wildlife Conservation Day, social media platform Instagram launched this week a new tool to fight animal exploitation.

Now anyone trying to search for the kinds of hashtags on which people post such behaviour - like #KoalaSelfie or #SlothSelfie - will see a message telling them that they might be enabling abusive behaviour. "You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals or the environment", the message reads.

Thousands of photos with the flagged hashtags, which relate to animals including tigers, lions and turtles, feature on Instagram.

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Users can then visit a dedicated page where Instagram warn them to consider whether an animal has been smuggled, poached or abused for the sake of tourism - they are told to be wary when paying for photo opportunities with exotic animals, as these photos and videos may put endangered animals at risk.

"The explosive trend of posting wildlife selfies on the site has driven the suffering and exploitation of some of the world's most iconic animals across the globe", officials from World Animal Protection said in a release.

It is supported by a link which further directs the users to a Help Center which gives more information on wildlife exploitation.

"Maybe someone who's been selling live animals on Instagram will get the popup and think, OK, this is going to get a lot harder for me", Grein says.

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Similar alerts are already set up for many hashtags in dozens of languages related to suicide, self-harm, and eating disorders. "So it's really important for us to see wildlife being elevated to the same space and same conversation".

Instagram has policed content before. Of course, the casual user may not realize the cute pictures are exploitative, but Instagram hopes to change that.

That was the finding of a new investigation that has led Instagram to hide such posts on the site and encourage people not to take them. However, in some cases, there are photos and clips that show animals being forced into doing certain acts, which are condemned by animal rights groups.

"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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