In many areas, animals are often illegally captured to generate money from tourists who jump at the chance to take a selfie with an exotic species, a practice that is highly dangerous for the animals involved. Instagram is taking action against the practice by providing in-app warnings and education.
Starting this week, if you search for certain hashtags on Instagram, such as #slothselfie, you'll see the following:
The initiative aims to educate users on the issue, with the "Learn More" button taking them to a page on wildlife exploitation and proper interaction. The company has attached the popup to several hundred such hashtags. In speaking to Gizmodo, Instagram said the company is trying to increase awareness and educate users on both the issue and the proper way to treat and interact with wild animals. Of course, much of the money generated from these practices revolves around users wanting to take pictures with the animals, with many of these selfies being posted on social media platforms. Thus, if the platforms themselves can combat their appearance, it may help to undermine the financial viability of the practices and decrease their frequency. Of course, the casual user may not realize the cute pictures are exploitative, but Instagram hopes to change that.
Lead image by Pixabay user Webster 2703, used under Creative Commons.