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Exclusive: Instagram Fights Animal Abuse With New Alert System

by on December 6, 2017

Exclusive: Instagram Fights Animal Abuse

With New Alert System

Using tools built to tackle self-harm and suicide, the social network will now alert users to behavior that harms wildlife.

A young man snaps a selfie on Isla de los Micos, Monkey Island, in the Colombian Amazon. “Selfie safaris”—in which tourists hold and take photos with wild animals—are a rising trend. Wildlife experts say that behind the scenes, many wild animals suffer.


Instagram is rife with photos of cute wild animals—including the exotic and endangered. A picture of someone hugging a sloth or showing off a pet tiger cub is just a click away on the massively popular photo-sharing platform, which serves 800 million users.

But starting today, searches for a wide range of wildlife hashtags will trigger a notification informing people of the behind-the-scenes animal abuse that makes some seemingly innocent wildlife photos possible.

Instagram will now deliver a pop-up message whenever someone searches or clicks on a hashtag like “#slothselfie.” The message reads, in part, “You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals or the environment.”

People can then click through to a page Instagram set up in its Help Center to provide a lot more information on wildlife exploitation. Instagram will use the same process for more egregious activity, such as searches for #exoticanimalforsale and other hashtags users post to advertise the sale of live animals or animal parts.

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