Instagram Is Cracking Down On Quokka Selfies, And WA Officials Are Pissed

Officials in Western Australia are furious with Instagram, after the social network began flagging quokka selfies as animal abuse, and warning users who search for the #quokkaselfies hashtag that they may be encouraging “harmful behaviour to animals or the environment.”

Quokkas, which reside on Rottnest Island, are a huge drawcard for tourism in Western Australia. The Rottnest Island Authority, which oversees the national park, has spoken out against Instagram’s decision, saying that it disregards the efforts that they make to protect native wildlife.

Speaking to The West Australian, an unnamed representative of the RIA said:

“The Instagram block notice … does not serve to educate or inform the public about our conservation efforts or direct people to how they might develop a better understanding of this native species. The RIA takes seriously its responsibility to protect the quokka population on the island and there are significant penalties for people who interfere with native flora and fauna.”

At present, users who search for the #quokkaselfie hashtag on Instagram get a pop-up message that reads:

“Animal abuse and the sale of animals and 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.”

The director of the authority is said to be negotiating with Instagram in attempt to get the warning removed.

WA tourism minister Paul Papalia says that the #quokkaselfies hashtag, while not officially endorsed by the government, encourages visitors to the state. He said:

“If we achieve quokka selfie fatigue then we have achieved our goal. It’s just cream on top, we’re not going out there and funding the quokka selfies and the opportunity has been taken to get celebrities who have a large social media following to go and do that and establish an expectation that you do that in WA.”

The likes of Margot RobbieDillon Francis and Roger Federer have all snapped quokka selfies in recent months.