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Instagram to flag hashtags that can hurt animals

Animal selfies can look cool, but the photo-sharing service wants users to know that sometimes the wildlife is abused.

A brown-throated sloth. Instagram will show popup alerts to users who use hashtags that might be associated with the abuse of wildlife, the company said Monday.

Instagram will show pop-up alerts to users who use hashtags that might be associated with the abuse of wildlife, the company said Monday.

Insights

Want to cuddle up with a sloth? Instagram would like to have a word with you about that.

The photo-sharing social media site said Monday it will show users pop-up warnings when they use hashtags associated with wildlife tourism. The warning: that snuggly creature could be living a life of misery.

"The protection and safety of the natural world are important to us and our global community," Instagram said in a statement. "We encourage everyone to be thoughtful about interactions with wild animals and the environment to help avoid exploitation and to report any photos and videos you may see that may violate our community guidelines."

The company teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund, TRAFFIC and World Animal Protection to create the alerts. Some of the hashtags that will prompt the notification are #koalaselfie, #slothselfie, and #exoticanimalforsale.

According to National Geographic, which first reported news of the pop-up, many of the flagged hashtags are used by tourists who pay to have a close encounter with a rare or exotic animal that may have been illegally trafficked. The company is also flagging hashtags that are directly involved with the sale of endangered animals, which isn't allowed on Instagram.

"You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals or the environment," the pop-up reads in part.Instagram didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on when the warnings will start appearing for users.