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Instagram Responds to Bombshell Report About Illegal Ape Trafficking

Instagram denounced the use of its app for the illegal trade of gorillas, chimps, and orangutans, marking photo service’s first response since a New York Times’ bombshell report last week about ape traffickers using its platform.

“It is heartbreaking to hear when our platform is being used to traffic and sell wild animals,” an Instagram spokesperson told Fast Company in an article published Wednesday. “This illegal behavior is prohibited on Instagram, and we will remove violating content or accounts.”

Unlike the black market trading of ivory, ape trafficking involves live animals—often infants, because they’re easier to smuggle—that are sold as pets or to unscrupulous zoos. It’s “an illicit global trade that has captured or killed tens of thousands of apes and pushed some endangered species to the brink of extinction,” according to the Times, which said traffickers also use other social media services like WhatsApp and Facebook.

Fast Company reported that “Instagram’s policy is to remove any reported content that promotes poaching of endangered species or the sale of animals for organized fighting.” However, due to the sheer size and scope of the Instagram community, the social media platform relies on the community to report suspect posts.

It’s another example of how new technologies failed to keep their services from being used for nefarious purposes, such as Facebook being used for revenge porn, and Twitter being deluged with harassment. Both Facebook and Twitter are trying to crack down on such posts.