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Big tech takes on its next big challenge—saving animals

Big tech takes on its next big challenge—saving animals
[Photo: courtesy of IFAW]

Twenty-one tech companies are banding together to save animals. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Instagram are founding members of the first-ever Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online. Other internet giants taking part in the important work are Alibaba, Baidu, Baixing, eBay, Etsy, Huaxia Collection, Kuaishou, Mall for Africa, Pinterest, Qyer, Ruby Lane, Shengshi Collection, Tencent, Wen Wan Tian Xia, Zhongyikupai, Zhuanzhuan, and 58 Group.

The tech companies will work in collaboration with WWF, TRAFFIC, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to stop or at least reduce wildlife trafficking across platforms by 80% by 2020, according to a press release.

By banding together the companies are hoping to put an end to the practice of buying and selling animals, ivory, and animal trophies online. Instagram recently enacted stricter rules to help stop the sale of animals on its site, but with every internet site drafting different rules, wildlife traffickers tend to travel between sites. This new coalition will work together to close up tech loopholes and ensure that social media and e-commerce platforms cannot be used for wildlife trafficking.

“Google is proud to partner with WWF as a founding member of this Coalition, and to join other companies in working to protect endangered species from illegal wildlife trade online,” said David Graff, senior director, Trust & Safety Global Product Policy at Google said in a statement.

The news is a bright light in a dark week for those concerned with animal welfare. Earlier this week President Trump reversed his position and decided to allow the importation of lion and elephant “trophies” on a case-by-case basis (like when his sons want to import their prey). As the WWF explains, “Addressing this issue in partnership with these companies is a critical step toward ensuring a world without rhinos, elephants, and thousands of other creatures does not become a reality.”

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