Instagram has introduced ‘content warnings’ to any wildlife selfies that are uploaded with particular hashtags, the social media giant announced on Wednesday.
Wildlife conservation groups have expressed concerns over Instagramers using animals as ‘props’ for their selfies, saying that ‘daily contact with humans can be traumatic’ for some animals.
Experts told Yahoo7 that tigers, lions, koalas and dolphins are at a high risk of mistreatment when humans interact with them at zoos.
Content warnings will be added to any images with hashtags like #KoalaSelfie or #KoalaHugs
There are 3,295 pictures carrying the hashtag #KoalaSelfie and and 5,103 under #TigerSelfie
‘To better educate our community members about creating content that exploits wildlife and nature, today we are launching new in-app products to encourage everyone to be thoughtful about interactions with wild animals and the environment,’ Instagram said in a statement.
Hashtags being targeted include #KoalaSelfie, #LionSelfie, #KoalaHugs, #TigerSelfie and #TigerPet.
When searching using any of the targeted hashtags, users will be directed to a warning pop-up that will offer a choice of viewing the pictures or choosing to cancel your search and learn more from a help page.
‘You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals or the environment,’ the warning reads.
‘You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts encourage harmful behaviour to animals or the environment,’ says the Instagram pop-up warning for the hashtag
‘Unfortunately, like most industries, there are bad eggs,’ Director of Life Sciences at Featherdale Wildlife Park Chad Staples.
‘There are going to be organisations that keep animals purely for profit instead of taking their welfare into consideration. They [Instagram] have no way of working out the good from the bad.’
Mr Staples also said that the warning was a ‘really positive step forward’ for NSW in particular, so no wildlife organisations in the state allow people to hold koalas.
He praised animals sanctuaries in NSW for their stance, saying that the hardline approach encourages people to be in close proximity to native wildlife while still allowing animals to feel safe and undisturbed.
NSW animals sanctuaries like Featherdale Wildlife Park (pictured) don’t allow koalas to be held
Featherdale Wildlife Park’s Chad Staples praised Instagram for their stance on animal rights
Instagram is not the first app to take a stand against wildlife pictures, with online dating app Tinder requesting that people not use ‘tiger selfies’ as their profile pictures.
‘Posing next to a king of the jungle doesn’t make you one,’ Tinder said in a blog post at the time, following pressure from animal activist group PETA and the Humane Society.
‘It’s time for the tiger selfies to go. More often than not, these photos take advantage of beautiful creatures that have been torn from their natural environment.’
Online dating app Tinder have started requesting that people not use ‘tiger selfies’ for profiles
Tinder pledged to donate $10,000 to Project Cat, a partnership between Discovery Communications and the World Wildlife Foundation to protect tigers and their habitat.
Instead, the dating app suggested in a statement to the Washington Post that users upload photos of them doing something more virtuous: planting a tree, walking to work, or ‘conserving water by drinking rosé.
While Instagram is not removing images that depict people holding animals, they are committed to removing any images that depict acts of animal abuse.