On Threads, users say they’re flooded with pro-life and transphobic posts
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On Threads, users say they’re flooded with pro-life and transphobic posts

I haven’t opened Threads, Meta’s hopeful rival to X/Twitter, for months. But I did on the first day of 2024, and the app looked nothing like I would have imagined.

Throughout my feed, I saw posts that were transphobic, pro-life, anti-porn, and Islamophobic. I don’t follow any of the accounts that post these threads; I haven’t engaged with any of the content, apart from taking screenshots. And turns out, I’m not the only one whose Threads experience is being flooded with these kinds of posts.

A screenshot from Threads.

An example of the *many* pro-life posts on Threads.
Credit: Threads.

A screenshot of a Threads post.

An example of the *many* pro-life posts on Threads.
Credit: Threads.

On X, people have been posting about this since the end of December 2023 and the beginning of this year. One user wrote: “That Threads app is a chop. I logged into it for second time ever and it was nothing but INSANE right-wing, conservative foolishness about abortion and marriage and everything else.” Another posted about their suggested timelines being “FILLED TO THE BRIM with anti-trans content”.

In a statement to Mashable, Meta acknowledged that “some users” are being shown “this type of repetitive, low-quality content.”

“We want people to have a positive experience on Threads, and we’re continually making improvements to what people see on the app. In addition to removing content that violates our community guidelines, we’re aware that some users are seeing this type of repetitive, low-quality content they may not be interested in, and we’re taking steps to address it,” said a Meta spokesperson.

At the time of writing this article, my suggested posts in Threads are of the same nature: that of hate speech. Posts that are against transgender rights and women’s rights, as well as posts that attack marginalized people, appear rampant on the app for me and others.

A screenshot of a post on Threads.

Credit: Threads.

Such posts are even being suggested via the Instagram app. On my feed, I have been directed to Threads multiple times, with posts that are homophobic, racist, or hateful in some capacity.

A screenshot of a suggested Threads posts on Instagram.

Credit: Instagram.

Threads, which launched in early July 2023, was accused of having a hate speech problem around a week after it went live. Several civil rights groups, including nonprofit watchdog group Media Matters for America, the Center for Countering Digital Hate, and GLAAD, criticized the app for insufficient guardrails against violence and disinformation. A letter to Meta from the groups accused the platform of supporting “neo-Nazi rhetoric, election lies, COVID and climate change denialism, and more toxicity.”

The app still does not have its own Terms of Use or Community guidelines. Instead, Meta says the app is “specifically part of Instagram, so the Instagram Terms of Use and the Instagram Community Guidelines” also apply to Threads. Instagram’s Community Guidelines note that the app removes content “that contains credible threats or hate speech, content that targets private individuals to degrade or shame them, personal information meant to blackmail or harass someone, and repeated unwanted messages.”

Instagram also emphasizes hate speech is “never OK” — the company applies this to anyone who “attack[s] anyone based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, disabilities, or diseases.” But the app also says it may allow hate speech if it is being shared “to challenge it or to raise awareness.”

Meanwhile, parent company Meta defines hate speech as a “direct attack against people – rather than concepts or institutions – on the basis of what we call protected characteristics.” This includes written or visual “expressions of contempt” and “self-admission to intolerance,” such as Islamophobia and homophobia. However, the content users are being served on Threads appears to be falling under these very categories.

In a statement to Mashable back in July, Meta said, “Our industry leading integrity enforcement tools and human review are wired into Threads. Like all of our apps, hate speech policies apply,” adding that the company is “considering additional ways to address misinformation in future updates.” In December, Meta announced it’s adding direct fact-checking into the Threads app; Mashable’s Shannon Connellan reported the update aims “to address misinformation on the app itself instead of referentially through its other platforms.”

Despite Meta’s policies, it appears that Threads has a long way to go with its alleged hate speech problem on the platform. Users have taken to X, and Threads itself, all week to point out the kind of content being pushed toward them in their feeds — and nearly every time, the posts appear to be unwanted.

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