Meta’s Threads Under Fire for Hosting Propaganda Accounts from Russia, China

Meta is facing criticism after state-backed news outlets from Russia, China, and other authoritarian governments flocked to its new microblogging service, Threads.

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According to The Wall Street Journal, verified accounts of these outlets, including Russia’s RT and Sputnik News, China’s CGTN and Xinhua News, and Iran’s Fars News, are not labeled as state-controlled media on Threads.

Unlike on Facebook and Instagram, where labels were previously applied to state-run media accounts, Threads launched without basic moderation features, leaving propaganda accounts unchecked.

Russia’s Sputnik News, known for publishing propaganda, shared a manipulated video of President Biden, falsely suggesting he was browsing books on dementia. After media scrutiny, the post was labeled as “False information” by Threads.

During an Australian Senate inquiry, Meta executives pledged to add labels and fact-checking to Threads “expeditiously.”

The platform’s premature launch led to more than 100 million sign-ups within a week, but user engagement has since declined, prompting the company to introduce new features, including a chronological feed.

Critics, like Simon Kemp, founder of digital consulting firm Kepios, argue that Threads was released prematurely and will likely see the addition of labels and other features over time.

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Meta’s vision for Threads is to create an “open and friendly public space for conversation,” as stated by CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

China’s CGTN has used Threads to promote a power project in Xinjiang, where the U.S. and some European governments accuse Beijing of committing genocide against Uyghur Muslims.

Beijing denies these allegations and argues that its actions in Xinjiang are necessary to counter terrorist threats.

As Meta works to address content moderation issues, many are watching closely to see how the company handles the presence of state-backed propaganda accounts on Threads.

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