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Instagram adds animal abuse warnings on selfies with animals

By Andie Silverman

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Instagram announced Dec. 4 that they would begin adding pop-up warnings to hashtags involving animals.

The warning will read: “Animal abuse and the sale of endangered animals or their parts is not allowed on Instagram. You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals or the environment.”

Along with the introduction of the message, Instagram will give users access to the link for a website with more information on wildlife exploitation.

In an official statement, Instagram officials cited the importance of protecting nature and its inhabitants.

“We encourage everyone to be thoughtful about interactions with wild animals and the environment to help avoid exploitation,” a company spokesman told The Washington Post.

Many Whitman students said they appreciate the update because it educates people on a topic that isn’t always discussed.

“If people are posting pictures hurting animals or abusing them in any way, it is good that they suffer some consequences,” Katia Goldberg, Animal Rights Club president, said. “Most people don’t think of people and animals on the same level, but as someone who does, I think it is great.”

Data provided to Instagram by World Animal Protection has been linked to the adoption of the warning. Their research revealed a 292 percent increase in the number of selfies with wild animals posted since 2014, and 40 percent of the animal-related images displayed unnatural or  inhuman behaviors.

The WAP isn’t the only company that has called attention to this issue. National Geographic covered this issue in October, highlighting the devastating consequences of “selfie safaris” on Amazonian wildlife.

This message is one of many steps that the media site has taken to limit the spread of inappropriate content. Instagram plans to include similar messages for images promoting self-harm and suicide.

Animal Rights Club member Bella Young has previously reported posts which display mistreatment of animals.

“Although in the past I have tried to report unfair treatment of animals on Instagram, I am only given the opportunity to do a general report,” she said. “With this new update, I hope this marks the beginning of Instagrams attempt to fight animal cruelty.”

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