Meta's Threads is temporarily blocking searches about Covid-19

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The Meta Facebook Instagram Threads web application is seen with a man user in a laptop in this illustration photo in Warsaw, Poland on 26 August, 2023.

CNN  — 

Threads, the much-hyped social media app from Facebook-parent Meta, is taking heat for blocking searches for “coronavirus,” “Covid,” and other pandemic-related queries.

The tech giant’s decision to block coronavirus-related searches on its service comes as the United States deals with a recent uptick in Covid-19 hospitalizations, per CDC data, and more than three years into the global pandemic.

News of Threads blocking searches related to the coronavirus was first reported by The Washington Post.

A Meta spokesperson told CNN that the company 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,” the statement added. “People will be able to search for keywords such as ‘COVID’ in future updates once we are confident in the quality of the results.” 

As of Monday, searches on the Threads app conducted by CNN for “coronavirus,” “Covid” and “Covid-19” yielded a blank page with the text: “No results.” Searches for “vaccine” also prompted no results. Typing any of these queries into the Threads app does, however, offer a link directing users to the CDC’s website on Covid-19 or vaccinations, depending on the search.

Meta did not disclose what other keyword searches currently yield no results.

Meta’s Facebook and other social media platforms faced controversy in the early part of the pandemic for the apparent spread of Covid-19-related misinformation online.

Meta officially launched Threads in early July, and the app quickly garnered more than 100 million sign-ups in its first week on the heels of months of chaos at Twitter, which is now known as X. But much of the buzz faded somewhat in the weeks that followed as users realized the bare-bones platform still lacked many of the features that made X popular with users.

Threads released its much-requested web version late last month, and its keyword search about a week ago. But the current limitations around its search function highlights how the platform still has some kinks to work through before it can fully replace the real-time search and engagement experience that social media users have historically relied on with X.

–CNN’s Clare Duffy contributed to this report.

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