I come bearing bad news that is, unfortunately, just so incredibly predictable I find myself digging my eyes out of the back of my skull from rolling them so hard.
It looks like Threads, Meta’s Twitter (now X) replacement, is blocking searches related to COVID and vaccines. Meanwhile, cases of COVID are on the rise, hospital admissions are increasing, new variants are appearing with abandon, and we’re approaching flu season. Nice work, everyone.
While Meta confirmed to The Washington Post that search terms are intentionally blocked, it did not say which terms. The Post‘s research showed that the words “sex,” “nude,” “gore,” “porn,” “coronavirus,” “vaccines,” and “vaccination” are at least some of the blocked words. Meta didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Mashable.
“The search functionality temporarily doesn’t provide results for keywords that may show potentially sensitive content,” Meta said in a statement to The Post, adding that it plans to add search functionality for terms “once we are confident in the quality of the results.”
This doesn’t come as a huge surprise for anyone who’s been keeping up with Meta’s plan for Threads. When Meta first launched the app, The Verge editor Alex Heath posted on Threads noting that “Meta as a company has spent the past few years actively distancing itself from news and literally downranking it in FB and IG.” This, he said, would go up against its ability to “be a real Twitter competitor,” which would require Threads to “embrace” the news industry. In response, Instagram Head Adam Mosseri wrote that his “goal isn’t to replace Twitter. The goal is to create a public square for communities on Instagram that never really embraced Twitter and for communities on Twitter (and other platforms) that are interested in a less angry place for conversations, but not all of Twitter. Politics and hard news are inevitably going to show up on Threads – they have on Instagram as well to some extent – but we’re not going to do anything to encourage those verticals.” Basically, Meta never wanted Threads to be a place for news — so of course it isn’t going to help spread information about a deadly illness.
The search function itself is actually pretty new to Threads. Famously, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, posted about the search update on Threads just two weeks ago with a GIF of Vin Diesel from the Fast and Furious franchise saying “I bet you gonna enjoy this.”
Mark, I’m not enjoying this!!!