After Meta’s new app Threads went live, right-wing and fringe figures signed up for the new Twitter alternative and began posting slurs and other forms of hate speech on their accounts in an attempt to challenge Meta’s content moderation practices.
On July 5, Meta released Threads, a companion app to Instagram, as a “Twitter Killer” to seemingly capture users dissatisfied with the chaos that has plagued Twitter since Elon Musk’s takeover. As Threads is currently anchored to Instagram, users must comply with Instagram’s Community Guidelines, as well as additional related policies from Meta.
In the last year, Meta, along with other major social media platforms, has noticeably deprioritized its content moderation and user safety practices. Instagram specifically has a long history of allowing hate speech and misinformation to prosper on the app, including permitting virulently anti-LGBTQ accounts, far-right extremists, and right-wing advertisers to post false and harmful rhetoric.
Instagram has also failed to adequately moderate many aspects of its platform, with users easily sidestepping moderation with story features, the “link-in-bio loophole,” commerce functions, and comments sections. Right-wing figure ALX said Threads is an “Instagram comments section” — and right-wing users are already treating it in a similar way. Several accounts on Threads, including that of virulent antisemite Andrew Torba and others seemingly affiliated with the Groyper movement (led by white nationalist Nick Fuentes), have already employed the practice of replying letters to one another's comments in order to spell out a slur together.
Within 24 hours of Threads’ release, right-wing and fringe figures signed up for the platform, including white nationalist Richard Spencer and Nazi supporters. Fuentes, who claims to have been banned from Meta's platforms, announced in a livestream on July 6, “I signed up for it last night. I made a fake Instagram. I got on a fake Thread.” He went on to instruct his followers to “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.”
In addition to joining the platform, right-wing and fringe figures have posted about the limits of its moderation, while also questioning whether Meta will “censor” them — which is a false claim that right-wing media and figures frequently employ against social media platforms with moderation policies.
Most notably, right-wing figures are even testing Threads’ moderation limits, with some expressing a desire to be banned as a badge of honor:
- Right-wing filmmaker and podcaster Paul Escandon posted: “Like if you hate t–––––––. Comment if you love t–––––––.” He followed that by posting simply “Hitler.”
- Far-right streamer Jon Miller posted: “can i say the n word on this app or is that a big no no.” Users then replied in the comments spelling out the slur.
- Right-wing influencer Bo Dittle: “I’m gonna use this app to talk about a bunch of things I would never put on Instagram. Let the drama begin.”
- Swig (Michael Swartz), founder of right-wing clothing company Old Row, posted: “Am I allowed to cyber bully @budlight on Threads without getting banned on Instagram?”
- Right-wing livestreamer Sneako posted, “Depression is LGBT,” along with a meme that said, “I don’t have time for depression.”
- Another post from Sneako said: “I kinda want the first ban on threads trophy. N”
- Virulently anti-trans group Gays Against Groomers posted: “We’re on Threads, and groomers still can’t sit with us 💅,” with the similarly anti-LGBTQ group Moms for Liberty responding, “Maybe we’ll finally be cool enough to get banned 👀.”
- In another post, Gays Against Groomers replied to another user saying: “Did you just admit you’re a groomer in 4K? It’s amazing how good we are at having you guys tell on yourselves!”
- Edgelord video game streamer Destiny wrote: “How edgy can we be here? 👀”
- PragerU ambassador and former Today is America President Xaviaer DuRousseau: “If you believe that there are only two genders or that ALL Lives Matter, then do not get too comfortable on this app. It’s only a matter of time before we’re all censored and digitally decapitated.”
- Pizzagate promoter and far-right influencer Jack Posobiec posted numerous times, seemingly testing the limits of Threads’ moderation, including saying that “Rachel Levine is a man,” “Migrants make neighborhoods more dangerous,” “Transwomen dont exist,” “Trump won,” and “The 2020 election was rigged and everyone knows it,” He also shared a video of Rachel Dolezal referencing false, racist crime statistics. Additionally, he posted that “the transgender rainbow mafia supports child grooming,” “Illegal aliens are sex trafficking children and Joe Biden is helping them,” and “Her name is Ellen Page and she is a woman.”