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Instagram cracks down on these adorable travel selfies.

If you're a social media maven, you may have noticed a bloom of animal selfies over the past few years.

A baby monkey grasps a tourist's fingers at a temple in Thailand. While many wildlife tourist sites are legitimate, an Instagram campaign is highlighting how some are more sinister in the ways they promote animal selfies. Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images.

You know the ones I'm talking about — a friend or celebrity posing with a monkey on their trip to Thailand, or holding a koala in Australia, or bench-pressing a whale. (I kid. Please don't try to bench-press whales).


A few years ago, these photos only showed up here and there. But lately, they've really taken off — along with the popularity of selfie-friendly apps like Snapchat and Instagram. In fact, there's been nearly a 300% increase in animal selfies since 2014.

But as cute as these animal pictures are, and as empowering as it can be to take a great selfie, there's simply something rotten going on with many of them — no matter how pure the intentions are of anyone individual using the #monkeyselfie hashtag.

It turns out that many of those seemingly innocent, totally adorable images are at the end of a very dark chain of events.

So from now on, if you search certain hashtags on Instagram (like #monkeyselfie, #koalaselfie, or #tigerselfies — along with hundreds of other unannounced hashtags, according to National Geographic), you'll likely trigger a message like this:

Image from James Gaines/Instagram.

But what could be so wrong with a cute picture with an animal? Most of these images aren't exactly clear-cut cases of animal abuse (like the time a baby dolphin was accidentally killed during a mass selfie spree in Argentina).

The real problem is much more insidious — one that Instagrammers might not even realize is going on.

In many parts of the world, tour guides or hot spots might try to provide guests with the opportunity to meet some wild animals. Some might be on the level, but in others, unscrupulous guides or agencies will actually capture animals from the wild, cage them, and use drugs or cruelty to tame them.

All in the name of five seconds of hugging a sloth.

Of course, tourists don't get to see the sad part. All they're aware of is that they snapped a selfie — and possibly scored a couple hundred likes or faves.

In a way, by trying to educate its entire audience through these warnings, Instagram is acting kind of like a whistle-blower on this issue.

Wildlife protection agencies are a fan of Instagram's decision. Cassandra Koenen, who works at the nonprofit World Animal Protection, says she hopes it'll make people pause before sharing something.

“If someone's behavior is interrupted, hopefully they'll think, 'Maybe there's something more here, or maybe I shouldn't just automatically like something or forward something or repost something if Instagram is saying to me there's a problem with this photo,'" Koenen told National Geographic.

In fact, Instagram worked with agencies, such as World Animal Protection and the World Wildlife Fund, for months to make sure they got this right.

The filter will also pop up for hashtags related to the often abusive exotic wildlife trade, such as #exoticanimalsforsale. Instagram hopes this will help disrupt wildlife traffickers' ability to find buyers via social media.

Social media is a powerful tool, but one that often unwittingly enables or hosts abuse. Instagram stepping up, recognizing the role they play, and taking steps to act responsibly is huge.

Hopefully it could help inspire individual users or even other social media sites to join in.

Image from YouTube video.

An emotional and strong Matt Diaz.


Matt Diaz has worked extremely hard to lose 270 pounds over the past six years.

But his proudest moment came in March 2015 when he decided to film himself with his shirt off to prove an important point about body positivity and self-love.

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Community

Man uses social media to teach others ASL so kids don't experience what he did as a child

Every child should be able to communicate in a way that works best for them.

Man teaches people ASL so no child experiences what he did

People start communicating from the moment they enter the world usually through cries, faces, grunts and squeals. Once infants move into the toddler phase the combine all of their previous communication skills with pointing and saying a few frequently used words like "milk," "mama," "dada" and "eat."

Children who are born without the ability to hear often still go through those same stages with the exception of their frequently used words being in sign language. But not all hearing parents know sign language, which can stunt the language skills of their non-hearing child. Ronnie McKenzie is an American Sign Language advocate that uses social media to teach others how to sign so deaf and nonverbal kids don't feel left out.

"But seriously i felt so isolated 50% of my life especially being outside of school i had NONE to sign ASL with. Imagine being restricted from your own language," McKenzie writes in his caption.

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Family

Wife says husband's last name is so awful she can't give it to her kids. Is she right?

"I totally get we can’t shield kids from everything, and I understand the whole family ties thing, but c’mon."

A wife pleads with her husband to change their child's name.

Even though it’s 2023 and schools are much more concerned with protecting children from bullying than in the past, parents still have to be aware that kids will be kids, and having a child with a funny name is bound to cause them trouble.

A mother on Reddit is concerned that her future children will have the unfortunate last name of “Butt,” so she asked people on the namenerds forum to help her convince her husband to name their child something different.

(Note: We’re assuming that the person who wrote the post is a woman because their husband is interested in perpetuating the family name, and if it were a same-sex relationship, a husband probably wouldn’t automatically make that assumption.)

"My husband’s last name is Butt. Can someone please help me illuminate to him why this last name is less than ideal,” she asked the forum. “I totally get we can’t shield kids from everything and I understand the whole family ties thing, but c'mon. Am I being unreasonable by suggesting our future kid either take my name, a hybrid, or a new one altogether?"

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Joy

Bus driver comes to the rescue for boy who didn't have an outfit for school's Pajamas Day

“It hurt me so bad…I wanted him to have a good day. No child should have to miss out on something as small as pajama day.”

Representative Image from Canva

One thoughtful act can completely turn someone's day around.

On the morning just before Valentine’s Day, school bus driver Larry Farrish Jr. noticed something amiss with Levi, one of his first grade passengers, on route to Engelhard Elementary, part of Jefferson County Public School (JCPS) in Louisville, Kentucky.

On any other day, the boy would greet Farrish with a smile and a wave. But today, nothing. Levi sat down by himself, eyes downcast, no shining grin to be seen. Farrish knew something was up, and decided to inquire.

With a “face full of tears,” as described on the JCPS website, Levi told Farrish that today was “Pajama Day” at school, but he didn’t have any pajamas to wear for the special occasion.
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via Imgur

Memories of testing like this gets people fired up.

It doesn't take much to cause everyone on the internet to go a little crazy, so it's not completely surprising that an incorrect answer on a child's math test is the latest event to get people fired up.

The test in question asked kids to solve "5 x 3" using repeated addition. Under this method, the correct answer is "5 groups of 3," not "3 groups of 5." The question is typical of Common Core but has many questioning this type of standardized testing and how it affects learning.

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Joy

There are over 30 years between these amazing before-and-after photos.

"It's important for me for my photography to make people smile."

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

Before and after photos separated by 30 years.


Chris Porsz was tired of studying sociology.

As a university student in the 1970s, he found the talk of economics and statistics completely mind-numbing. So instead, he says, he roamed the streets of his hometown of Peterborough, England, with a camera in hand, snapping pictures of the people he met and listening to their stories. To him, it was a far better way to understand the world.

He always looked for the most eccentric people he could find, anyone who stood out from the crowd. Sometimes he'd snap a single picture of that person and walk away. Other times he'd have lengthy conversations with these strangers.

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