Instagram is cracking down on wildlife selfies

SULAWESI or CRESTED BLACK MACAQUE David J Slater  Caters News Agency

SULAWESI or CRESTED BLACK MACAQUE David J Slater Caters News Agency

Put down the selfie stick and step away from the koala.

The photo sharing app is adding warnings to hundreds of hashtags and phrases that are associated with animal cruelty, sending users pop-up messages warning that their holiday snaps might in fact be the result of abusive practices.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Animal protection groups have been warning people for some time about the industries that support animal selfies and the abuse suffered by the monkeys, koalas, and tigers posing in them.

Starting today, when a person searches for a hashtag associated with harmful behavior to animals or the environment, they will see a content advisory screen. These types of photos have become hard to avoid on social media, where postings have increased by 292 percent since 2014, according to World Animal Protection.

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The alert system builds off similar suicide prevention methods on Instagram, which sees pop-ups linked to hashtags connected with self harm.

"We care about our community, including the animals and the wildlife that are an important part of the platform", Instagram spokeswoman Emily Cain told National Geographic. "I think it's important for the community right now to be more aware".

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In many areas, animals are often illegally captured to generate money from tourists who jump at the chance to take a selfie with an exotic species, a practice that is highly risky for the animals involved. "We're trying to do our part to educate them". Plus, all these pay-to-post images kinda normalize grabbing any animal and snapping a pic-like in this horrifying story of idiots murdering a baby dolphin for Insta, or this woman who killed a swan for a selfie.

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