Meta's Threads slammed for blocking Covid-19 searches, as cases rise in US
Health experts condemned the short messaging platform for restricting info amid the infection surge, citing cruelty to long Covid patients who rely on social media to share vital health information
Meta's Threads has reportedly blocked searches related to Covid and coronavirus vaccines as fresh infections rise in the US, a move that has been slammed by health experts.
Public health experts criticised the social media platform's decision, saying that restricting access to critical health information is not a good move as the US sees a rise in daily Covid-19 infections, reports the Washington Post.
Meta, which also owns Facebook and Instagram, said in a statement that Threads is intentionally blocking the search terms, along with other contentious terms.
“The search functionality temporarily doesn’t provide results for keywords that may show potentially sensitive content,” according to the statement.
A search by the Post discovered that the words 'sex', 'nude', 'gore' and 'porn' were some of the blocked search terms, alongside 'coronavirus', 'vaccines' and 'vaccination'.
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Once the users type 'covid' or 'covid-19' on Threads, they see a prompt directing them to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
Public health experts slammed Threads’ move amid a steep rise in new Covid infections across the country.
“Long covid patients have died of organ failure, infections, cardiac events and more, and social media is one place they can share information. Cutting off communication between suffering and disabled patients is cruel in the extreme. It’s indefensible,” Julia Doubleday, outreach director at non-profit World Health Network, was quoted as saying.
Amid the rise of several new Covid variants, the US saw a 16 per cent jump in the SARS-CoV-2 virus-related hospitalisations, according to data from the CDC last week.
States like Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming saw more than 30 per cent increase in hospital admissions over the past week.
This has raised concerns as the spike comes after a quiet year in which hospitalisations and deaths have been low since January.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also warned of "concerning trends" for Covid ahead of winter.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now approved newly formulated Covid vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna that are more closely targeted to current variants of the disease.