World Animal Protection investigation uncovered huge increase in harmful wildlife selfies on the social media site
TORONTO, Dec. 4, 2017 /CNW/ - Today, Instagram is taking action to inform its users about the cruelty of taking selfies with wild animals, following an investigation by international NGO, World Animal Protection.
In October this year, Instagram was alerted to cutting-edge image recognition research undertaken by the charity that showed a 292% increase in the number of selfies with wild animals posted on the site since 2014. More than 40% of those selfie photos showed particularly bad interactions with wild animals - someone hugging, holding or inappropriately handling a wild animal.
Following meetings between the charity and Instagram, the popular social media site announced today that when one of their 800 million users searches for a hashtag associated with harmful behaviour to animals, they will see a content advisory screen: "Animal abuse and the sale of endangered animals or their parts are not allowed on Instagram." There are currently hundreds of hashtags such as #SlothSelfie and #MonkeySelfie on Instagram.
Users can then visit a dedicated page where Instagram warns them to consider whether an animal has been smuggled, poached or abused for the sake of tourism - they are told to be wary when paying for photo opportunities with exotic animals, as these photos and videos may put endangered animals at risk.
Instagram users can click a link to visit World Animal Protection's website to learn more about posts that encourage harmful behaviour to animals.
Cassandra Koenen, Head of Wildlife Campaign, said:
"We congratulate Instagram on taking this important step towards educating its users about wild animals that are suffering for selfies and for recognizing that animal abuse happens both in front of and behind the camera. The reality is these wild animals are suffering terribly.
"With its community of over 800 million users, Instagram has the platform to change the conversation around the use of animals as photo props. We are encouraged by this first step towards changing the acceptability of using animals for our entertainment."
The explosive trend of posting wildlife selfies on the site has driven the suffering and exploitation of some of the world's most iconic animals across the globe. World Animal Protection investigators found that animals are snatched from the wild - often illegally - and used by irresponsible tour operators who cruelly exploit and injure wildlife to entertain and provide harmful photo opportunities for tourists.
The charity has launched a Wildlife Selfie Code for tourists to learn how to take a photo with wild animals without fueling the cruel wildlife entertainment industry. Join the movement to end this cruel industry by signing The Wildlife Selfie Code and commit to keeping wild animals in the wild, where they belong.
Notes to the editor:
- Undercover b-roll footage and images available here.
- Find out more information about our wildlife selfie campaign here.
- Launched in 2015, our Wildlife Not Entertainers campaign is moving the wildlife tourism industry away from cruel forms of entertainment, such as elephant rides and shows, towards positive wildlife experiences where tourists can see wild animals in the wild or true sanctuaries.
SOURCE World Animal Protection
For further information: For an interview with a spokesperson contact Beth Sharpe, Communications Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1 647 268 8122