Remember the 2017 baby dolphin selfie-tragedy? To recap, a group of tourists took a baby dolphin out of the water at a Spanish beach and passed him around for selfies. The traumatizing incident caused the baby dolphin to pass away. It was a devastating lesson in the dangers of narcissism. Now, Instagram is taking a stand against destructive selfie practices.
Instagram has released a public statement about their position on “protecting wildlife and nature from exploitation”. You can no longer search for a “hashtag associated with harmful behavior to animals or the environment” on their platform. If you try, a content advisory screen will pop up stating that “animal abuse and the sale of endangered animals or their parts are not allowed on Instagram.” The content advisory also lets users know that by searching for these hashtags they are supporting harmful behavior to animals and the environment.
The World Animal Protection organization states that it has witnessed a “292% increase in the number of wildlife selfies posted on Instagram since 2014.” The charity urged Instagram to take proactive action against these harmful practices, and Instagram responded like the animal advocate we know and love.
Instagram stated that “the protection and safety of the natural world are important to us and our global community. We encourage everyone to be thoughtful about interactions with wild animals and the environment to help avoid exploitation”.
There’s no question that wildlife selfies are damaging to the animals. Sloths are handled by “about five people within just a few minutes, causing them immense stress. Behind the scenes, they are tied to trees with rope and, tragically, rarely live to six months”. Caiman alligators, anacondas, and ant-eaters are amongst the newest animal abuse trends to come from the Amazon. They’re in line behind “tigers drugged up to their eyeballs” in Thailand. The World Animal Protection organization urges tourists not to partake in animal selfies.
You’re probably going to get more right-swipes on Tinder and likes on Instagram by supporting animal protection, than by taking harmful selfies with them anyways!