Threads Ban On Search Terms Related To COVID-19 Is 'Temporary': Instagram Chief

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Oct 19, 2023 - 06:10 PM

Authored by Stephen Katte via The Epoch Times,

Social media platform Threads's ban on search terms related to COVID-19 is only temporary, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri has revealed.

In an Oct. 17 post on Threads, Mr. Mosseri said he didn't have a firm date on when the ban would be lifted, but he didn't think it would be a permanent situation.

"I don't have an ETA to give you, unfortunately, but it is temporary, and we are working on it. We're just getting pulled in a lot of directions at once right now," Mr. Mosseri said.

"The broader team is working on deeper integrations into Instagram and Facebook, graph building, EU compliance, Fediverse support, trending, and generally making sure Threads continues to grow," he added.

Following Threads's July release, parent company Meta rolled out several updates, including a new search function similar to that on X, formerly known as Twitter.

However, users soon discovered the new search function blocked access to certain posts related to COVID-19, such as those concerning vaccines and long COVID.

Users searching for some COVID-related terms were reportedly met with a blank screen and redirected to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Threads logo is displayed on a cell phone in San Anselmo, Calif., on July 5, 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

"Censorship doesn't work. Misinfo still gets circulated by code names & other platforms, tech companies should invest in real solutions like moderation/education," Lucky Tran, director of science communication at Columbia University, said at the time in an X post.

Another Tech CEO, Michael Robertson, was far more scathing, saying in an X post that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg "treats users like children." He called for a boycott of Threads and for people to "embrace" rival platform X.

According to a later post by Ms. Tran, words such as sex, nude, gore, porn, coronavirus, vaccines, and vaccination are among other blocked words.

Meta confirmed in a previous statement to The Epoch Times that Threads is blocking users from searching for words that could bring up “sensitive” posts for now, but people would be able to search for keywords such as "COVID" in the future once the company is "confident in the quality of the results.”

In a follow-up post, Mr. Mosseri promised to look into the timeline for unblocking the banned COVID-19 terms on Threads.

"Weeks or months, let me look into it and circle back. The reality is that we have lots of important work to do," he said.

"The team is moving fast, but we're not yet where we want to be," Mr. Mosseri added.

Meta owns and operates several social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Threads, and WhatsApp.

Focus on Israel–Hamas War Misinformation

According to Mr. Mosseri, the primary concern for his team is managing content centered around the Israel–Hamas War.

"The biggest safety focus right now is managing content responsibly given the war in Israel in Gaza," he said.

Terrorist organization Hamas launched an Oct. 7 surprise attack on Israel, killing over 1,400 Israelis, wounding around 3,000, and kidnapping at least 130 others.

People inspect the remains of a destroyed building in Gaza on Oct. 18, 2023. (Mahmud Hams/AFP via Getty Images)

The retaliation air strikes on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip by Israel have killed at least 2,200, and wounded another 8,714.

Misinformation has been rife as both sides in the conflict, and their supporters, attempt to gain the upper hand in the ongoing propaganda war.

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry claimed recently that at least 500 people were killed in an Oct. 17 blast at a hospital, blaming the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

The IDF denied it was responsible, and on Oct. 18, President Joe Biden revealed data collected by the United States Defense Department supports Israel's claim that it wasn't responsible.

Hamas also released a video recently showing a female hostage receiving medical treatment, but a White House spokesperson has since questioned its authenticity.