Threads, a new text-based social media platform created by industry giant Meta, is now blocking terms related to COVID-19 and vaccines on its search engines. 

The Washington Post reported on Monday that the social media platform rolled out its revamp search engine last week, only for users to be met with a blank screen and a pop-up linking to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website when they type terms related to “covid” or “long covid”. 

Words such as “sex,” “nude,” “gore,” “porn,” “coronavirus,” “vaccines” and “vaccination” are also blocked on the social media platform’s search engine, according to the Post. 

In a statement, Meta told The Hill that Threads’ new search engine “temporarily doesn’t provide results” for words that may include “sensitive content.” 

“We 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,” a Meta spokesperson said in its statement. 

“People will be able to search for keywords such as “COVID” in future updates once we are confident in the quality of the results.”

Meta’s decision comes as COVID-19 has been rising in the U.S., as hospitalizations from the virus increased to 16 percent last week and has been steadily rising since July, according to data from the CDC.

Public health care workers have criticized Meta’s decision to block COVID-related searches, including World Health Network outreach director Julia Doubleday, who said that social media is vital to patients who are searching for more information about their recent illness diagnosis. 

“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,” Doubleday said. “It’s indefensible.”

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