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‘No results’: Threads is still blocking searches for sex, sexual health and porn

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Meta is is still blocking searches on its social media app Threads for sex-related words and phrases including “sex”, “sexual health“, “nude”, “nudity”, “porn” and “pornography”, one week after the company said that blocks for some “sensitive” words would be temporary.

According to a September 11, 2023 report from The Washington Post Threads, which introduced its search function in early September, appeared to block a significant number of words that could be considered “sensitive content.” As a result, when users searched for these words, they received a “No results” response on the platform.

In addition to sex-related words, searches for words including “vaccines”, “covid”, “long covid”, “coronavirus” and “gore” were blocked.

Meta told WashPo that the move was temporary for at least some search words, and that the company would add search functionality for words once they were “confident in the quality of the results”. However, concerns were raised that the blocks made it difficult for people to access health information about Covid.

It’s also made it harder to search for sex-related content on Threads that could be related to health, or simply factual information, rather than titillation. The move is also an insight into the way Meta will run Threads, which has a far more conservative content policy than Twitter/X, its main rival.

Threads, like Meta’s other prize stable ponies Instagram and Facebook, does not allow sexually explicit content on the platform. X does, and porn can be easily found on the platform through the search function.

It’s not particularly surprising, then, that Threads is being extremely cautious with regard to these potentially sensitive words as it rolls out search functionality. What’s more concerning is that more than a week after the search function was added, there’s no sign of any of the blocks being lifted, or a timescale for their removal. How long will mentioning “sex” be officially banned on the platform?

SEXTECHGUIDE has asked Meta to clarify this, and will update the story with any response. The company previously told The Washington Post: “The search functionality temporarily doesn’t provide results for keywords that may show potentially sensitive content.” It has also said that searches for covid will be allowed in the future.

Meta has said that it isn’t aiming for Threads to be the first port of call for people seeking breaking news. But the sweeping nature of the blocks, that as of September 18 still meant that searches for “sexual health” or “sexual diseases” were fruitless, feels like a big over-reach even for a temporary measure.

In August it was reported that Threads was struggling to retain users around a month after its launch. The amount of daily active users using Threads has reportedly peaked at 44 million. In 2022, X had more than 200 million daily active users.

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