Meta Told to Hand Over Threads Content Moderation Documents to the Government

Meta Told to Hand Over Threads Content Moderation Documents to the Government

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee has issued an additional subpoena directing Meta to hand over documents surrounding content moderation on its newest app, Threads. The request was sent amid the ongoing investigation into policies on tech platforms including Google’s parent company, Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft.

House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) sent a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, indicating the company will need to comply with its previous subpoena that included Facebook and Instagram, to now include Threads which launched on July 5. Since it has become the number one rival against Twitter, it could place the new app in political crosshairs as the never-ending controversy over content moderation churns on.

In the letter, Jordan wrote: “Indeed, Threads raises serious, specific concerns because it has been marketed as a rival of Elon Musk’s Twitter, which has faced political persecution from the Biden Administration following Musk’s commitment to free speech.” However, he added: “In contrast, there are reports that Threads will enforce ‘Instagram’s community guidelines,’ which resulted in lawful speech being moderated following pressure by the government.”

The Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas to tech companies claiming the federal government “coerced or colluded with technology, social media, and other companies to moderate content online,” Jordan wrote in the letter. He claimed in the letter that the government’s supposed attempts to moderate or censor content goes against freedom of speech, and is accusing platforms of agreeing to “play a role in this censorship scheme.”

Within the first 24 hours after Threads launched, 30 million people signed up for the app, which jumped to 100 million users only a few days later.

Those who signed up for Threads include white nationalist Richard Spencer and Nick Fuentes, a white supremacist and outspoken antisemite. Fuentes was suspended from Instagram, which does moderate content for hate speech and misinformation, in 2019.

“I signed up for it last night. I made a fake Instagram. I got on a fake Thread,” he said, according to Media Matters. Fuentes told his followers they should “try and build a big account. I mean, if you get in early, maybe some of you guys can blow up and red pill some people on there.”

Meta confirmed in an interview with Media Matters that it will not extend its existing fact-checking program to Threads and doesn’t have plans to manage misinformation on the app.

The lack of content moderation on Threads has already allowed misinformation to thrive, including false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, fake news about gender-affirming care, and Covid-19 vaccines. Users have also posted racist, antisemitic, and anti-immigration comments and videos on threads, including one of Fuentes using the N-word and claiming that “migrants make neighbourhoods more dangerous” while asking, “Where is @Hitler?”

There are continued concerns that if Jordan were to prevail in his attempt to eliminate content moderation on social media, it would destroy years of effort between the government and social media companies to upend swirling misinformation online. The efforts reportedly included eliminating a barrage of election interference and voter suppression following the Russian involvement to spread disinformation during the 2016 presidential election.

Jordan addressed past moderation in the letter, writing: “Given that Meta has censored First Amendment-protected speech as a result of government agencies’ requests and demands in the past, the Committee is concerned about potential First Amendment violations that have occurred or will occur on the Threads platform.”

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