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Instagram is fighting wildlife selfies with a new alert system

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Instagram has debuted a new alert system aimed at helping combat animal abuse, according to National Geographic.

National Geographic on Monday reported that the feature was implemented for Instagram’s 800 million users the same day.

Users who search for a wide range of wildlife hashtags on the social media platform will now trigger a notification aimed at raising awareness about animal abuse.

A pop-up message will inform people about the often unseen misconduct that makes apparently innocent images with wildlife possible.

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“You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals or the environment,” the notification reads in part.

Individuals can then examine a page Instagram created in its Help Center that gives additional information concerning wildlife exploitation.

Instagram will also use the same process for more egregious behavior, such as hashtags that users post for advertising the sale of animal parts or live creatures.

The hashtags that trigger the warnings number in the hundreds, and they appear in English and the local languages of nations like Thailand where illegal wildlife practices are rampant.

Instagram spent several months developing the catalog, using input from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and World Animal Protection.

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TRAFFIC, a partner organization of the WWF that works to monitor wildlife trade, was also a participant.

The warnings are partially in response to the growing trend of wildlife selfies, which are sometimes visible on social media platforms like Instagram.

World Animal Protection on Monday reported that the prevalence of such images on social media has grown 292 percent since 2014.

Animals that are cuddled in selfies have in many cases been illegally snatched from the wild and raised in captivity in deplorable conditions.

Some species – like lions and tigers – are speed-bred in captivity and weaned from their mothers too early.

Popular tourist activities like elephant riding or dolphin swimming additionally force many specimens to undergo painful taming processes before they appear in travelers’ pictures.

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