The social media platform carried out its renovated search engine last week, only for users to be greeted with a blank screen and a pop-up linking to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website when they type terms connected to "covid" or "long covid." Threads also blocked words like "coronavirus," "vaccines" and "vaccination" in its search engine, alongside more explicit search queries.
In a statement, a Meta spokesperson said the platform's recently updated search engine "temporarily doesn't provide results" for words that may contain "sensitive content."
"We just began rolling out keyword search for Threads to additional countries last week. The search functionality temporarily doesn't provide results for keywords that may show potentially sensitive content," they stated. "People will be able to search for keywords such as 'COVID' in future updates once we are confident in the quality of the results."
The decision by Meta, headed by its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, arrives as COVID-19 has been increasing in the United States. Hospitalizations from the virus soared to 16 percent last week and have been steadily surging since July, based on data from the CDC.
Threads started in early July in an attempt to take advantage of people's disappointment with Elon Musk's X, the site previously known as Twitter, and succeeded in getting 100 million sign-ups within five days of going live. (Related: Battle of Tech Titans: Zuckerberg’s Threads trying to dethrone Musk’s Twitter (but is failing miserably.))
Released earlier this summer, the platform has been rolling out several much-requested updates in recent weeks, including launching a desktop version and search functionality.
But according to Huffington Post, Threads' decision to block COVID-related searches illustrates Meta’s desire to avoid elevating any topics that could be deemed "hard news" on the platform.
"Politics and hard news are inevitably going to show up on Threads," said Instagram head Adam Mosseri. "They have on Instagram as well to some extent, but we're not going to do anything to encourage those verticals." Mosseri, who helms the photo sharing platform, has also been involved in the inauguration of Threads.
Meanwhile, public healthcare workers denounced Meta's decision to block COVID-related searches. Julia Doubleday, outreach director for the World Health Network Outreach, was among those critical of the move. According to her, social media is critical to patients who are searching for more information about their current illness diagnosis.
"Long COVID patients have died of organ failure, infections, cardiac events and more, and social media is one place they can share information," said Doubleday. "Cutting off communication between suffering and disabled patients is cruel in the extreme. It's indefensible."
Visit MetaTyranny.com for more stories about Threads and others platforms under Mark Zuckerberg's Meta.
Watch this video about why Elon Musk's X threatened to sue Mark Zuckerberg's Threads over alleged theft of data and company secrets.
This video is from the SecureLife channel on Brighteon.com.