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Instagram issues abuse warnings over animal selfies

Tourists take selfies with baby dolphin on Argentina beach. Pic: CEN / Hernan Coria
Image: Tourists take selfies with a baby dolphin on an Argentinian beach. Pic: CEN/Hernan Coria

Remember the young dolphin that died after beachgoers took it from the sea to pose for photographs with it?

It was still being passed around by the crowd after its death and was later left discarded in the sand.

It is because of incidents like this that Instagram is cracking down on the trend of animal selfies which thousands of people post across social media each year.

Now, when a person searches for a hashtag for selfies that include wildlife such as koalas and monkeys, a message will pop-up on screen.

It will warn: “Animal abuse and the sale of endangered animals or their parts is not allowed on Instagram. You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behaviour to animals or the environment.”

It is not the first social media site to take action.

In July, Tinder urged its users to “take down your tiger pics” and pledged to donate $10,000 (£7,475) to tiger conservation in honour of International Tiger day.

Like Tinder, Instagram is not banning the selfies or asking users to take them down, but said it is working with the World Wildlife Fund, TRAFFIC (the wildlife trade monitoring network) and World Animal Protection to clampdown on exploitation.

It said: “The protection and safety of the natural world are important to us and our global community.

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“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.

“We are committed to fostering a safer, kinder world both on Instagram and beyond the app.”

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    Image: The FPO’s Heinz-Christian Strache is tipped to be deputy chancellor

    Austria is set to become the only western European country with a far-right party in government.

    The head of the conservative People’s Party (OVP), Sebastian Kurz, has struck a coalition deal with the far-right Freedom Party (FPO).

    The FPO will take charge of the foreign, interior and defence ministries, among others, while its leader, 48-year-old Heinz-Christian Strache, will be deputy chancellor.

    Mr Kurz, 31, will be the youngest leader in Europe. His OVP will run ministries including finance and justice.

    When the OVP won Austria’s election on 15 October it did so with a hard line on immigration – a policy which often overlapped with that of the FPO.

    The FPO was third, taking 26% of the vote.

    “Nobody has anything to fear,” said the FPO’s secretary general and Austria’s next interior minister, Herbert Kickl.

    Sebastian Kurz
    Image: Sebastian Kurz says he wants to increase security and combat illegal immigraton

    Mr Kurz held a joint news conference with Mr Strache and told reporters: “Our aims are quite clear.

    “We want to ease the tax burden for people, we want to strengthen our economy, which will bolster our social system.”

    Mr Kurz, known as ‘wunderwuzzi’ or ‘whizz-kid’, added: “And first and foremost we want to increase security in our country, including by combating illegal immigration.”

    While Mr Kurz has said his administration will be pro-European, both he and Mr Strache have expressed doubts about further social integration.

    Sebastian Kurz
    Image: Mr Kurz, 31, is Europe’s youngest leader

    The two men presented their agreement to Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, a former Greens leader who narrowly beat the FPO in a presidential vote in 2015.

    Mr Van der Bellen, who has the right to reject ministers, has said a new government could be sworn in early next week if everything went to plan.

    Following their meeting, Mr Van der Bellen said they had agreed it was in Austria’s “national interest” to remain at the “centre of a strong European Union”.

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    The FPO’s success mirrors that of similar parties across Europe. Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party is now the second-largest in the Netherlands, the Front National in France was involved in a run-off for the presidency in May and representatives from Germany’s AfD have entered the Bundestag.

    When the FPO was last in government, under the late Joerg Haider, other EU countries imposed sanctions on Vienna in protest.

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