Twitter users trying to find links to Meta’s microblogging rival Threads are finding that the Elon Musk-owned social media network appears to be limiting results. That’s despite Twitter currently being filled with links to Threads content, which you’d expect to be able to find via search. We spotted the behavior via a Threads post from Andy Baio, but the behavior is also being widely reported by Twitter users.
The issue was first noticed when using the “url:” search operator, which is normally used to search for links to a specific URL. For example, searching “url:theverge.com” on Twitter brings up every single tweet that links to any page on The Verge, regardless of whether the URL has been shortened. But searching for “url:threads.net” returns zero results, despite there being plenty of tweets that link to the domain.
Likewise, searching for “threads.net” without the “url:” operator turns up dozens of irrelevant results from users with their Threads account in their display name, or who are talking about the service without linking to it — it doesn’t surface any linked Threads posts.
It’s still possible to find links to Threads posts on Twitter, but you’ll have to get creative. Searching for “url:“threads net”” with a space between “threads” and “net” is the best workaround we’ve seen, and you can also still search for specific Thread post URLs (like this). But the apparent restriction adds friction to the process, making it harder to easily find a broad array of Threads links on Twitter.
It’s unclear how intentional this behavior is, and an enquiry sent to Twitter’s press line returned the customary poop emoji auto-reply. But Twitter owner Elon Musk has been intensely critical of Threads and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “Competition is fine, cheating is not,” Musk tweeted on July 6th. “Zuck is a cuck,” was his less measured response three days later. Twitter has also threatened to sue Meta over Threads, claiming Meta has engaged in “systematic, willful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property.”
If it is intentional, however, it wouldn’t be the first time Twitter has limited the visibility of other services on its platform. In early April Twitter limited how users could engage with posts containing links to Substack on the eve of the newsletter service’s launch of its Notes microblogging service. Users were unable to like, reply to, or retweet tweets containing Substack URLs, and Twitter then started marking Substack links as unsafe. Twitter also redirected searches for “Substack” to the much more general “newsletter.”
Elon Musk attempted to justify the limitations placed on Substack links by saying the service “was trying to download a massive portion of the Twitter database to bootstrap their Twitter clone.” But his concerns appeared to be short-lived: a day later Substack said “the suppression of Substack publications on Twitter” appeared to be over.