While President Joe Biden ordered an intelligence review of the previously “debunked” possibility that COVID-19 first originated in a Wuhan lab, Facebook announced that they would no longer censor posts which claim that the virus was man-made or manufactured.
According to Politico, this announcement represents “a move that acknowledges the renewed debate about the virus’ origins.”
In February, Facebook expanded the list of “misleading” health claims which would be removed from its platform, including the view that “COVID-19 is man-made or manufactured.”
In an updated blog post, Facebook’s Vice President of Integrity, Guy Rosen, announced that the policy has been changed.
“In light of ongoing investigations into the origin of COVID-19 and in consultation with public health experts, we will no longer remove the claim that COVID-19 is man-made or manufactured from our apps,” the post reads. “We’re continuing to work with health experts to keep pace with the evolving nature of the pandemic and regularly update our policies as new facts and trends emerge.”
“Today, we are expanding our efforts to remove false claims on Facebook and Instagram about COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccines and vaccines in general during the pandemic. Since December, we’ve removed false claims about COVID-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts. Today, following consultations with leading health organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), we are expanding the list of false claims we will remove to include additional debunked claims about the coronavirus and vaccines,” the previous policy, announced in February, declared.
Facebook’s announcement comes days after Politifact, a fact-checking organization that works closely with the social media giant, was “forced to walk back a fact check on a claim made on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show related to the origins of SARS-CoV-2.”
Writing for Politifact, “Tom Kertscher and Noah Kim wrote an overview for PolitiFact ‘debating the origins of the COVID-19 virus,’” reported The Daily Wire.
“Scientists who have studied the coronavirus have generally concluded that it resembles naturally occurring viruses,” PolitiFact explained in their summary of the piece. “But researchers are paying more attention to the possibility that the virus somehow leaked from the lab, though there’s still nothing conclusive.”
Prior to this shift in approach, Politifact was part of the fact-checking effort to suppress the “Wuhan lab theory.” For example, in a now-archived fact-check from September 2020, PolitiFact claimed that a Tucker Carlson segment included a “debunked conspiracy theory that COVID-19 was created in a lab.”
In the fact-check from September 16, 2020, Daniel Funke wrote for PolitiFact that “scientists say the coronavirus emerged from bats and later jumped to humans,” and that the genetic structure of the novel coronavirus “rules out laboratory manipulation.” PolitiFact stressed at the time that “public health authorities have repeatedly said the coronavirus was not derived from a lab.”
PolitiFact used this same logic to “debunk” multiple similar claims.
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