Instagram Fights Illegal Wildlife Exploitation by Warning Users in App

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Instagram has announced it will now issue animal cruelty warnings on selfies with exotic animals. You'll see if when viewing these flagged hashtags, but users posting photos under the same hashtags will not receive the warning.

But Instagram is cracking down on the trend after warnings that the animals subjected to photoshoots are the victims of cruelty.

Wildlife experts say that holding some animals like koalas and sloths actually causes them distress.

An Instagram representative tells the Huffington Post that "hundreds of hashtag combinations" will now trigger a warning advising users about the problems of wildlife exploitation.

The move comes not long after a group of high-profile conservation photographers launched their Photographers Against Wildlife Crime project in an effort to combat animal exploitation.

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It has chosen not to share the list publicly in order for users to stumble across the hashtags organically, National Geographic reported, but examples include#koalaselfie, #slothselfie, and #exoticanimalforsale. You can still view the photos but you can also choose to cancel your search or learn more from an Instagram help page.

"Posing next to a king of the jungle doesn't make you one", Tinder said in a post at the time.

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.

Instagram said while it isn't banning the photos or taking the selfies down, it is removing images that depict animal abuse.

Instagram has experimented with pop-up messages for other hashtags in the past surrounding suicide, eating disorders and other forms of self-harm, and already has safeguards in place to prevent pictures of animal abuse and the sale of endangered animals or their parts.

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