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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.

PHOTOGRAPH BY KIRSTEN LUCE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

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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