Facebook Lifts Censorship on Posts Claiming ‘New Coronavirus is Man-Made’

A Facebook spokesperson told political news site Politico on May 26 that the social media platform will no longer remove posts claiming that the “New Coronavirus (Covid-19) is man-made or manufactured,” a move that acknowledges the new debate over the origin of the virus.

President Joe Biden issued a statement the same day asking U.S. intelligence agencies to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information on the origin of the New Coronavirus and to report to him in three months whether it came from an animal source or a laboratory accident. He also asked national laboratories and other government agencies to assist the intelligence community in its efforts. On Capitol Hill, bipartisan support is also growing for a push for a related investigation by the U.S. Congress. But the mainstream focus recently has been on the notion that the new coronavirus could have escaped from the lab by accident, rather than being created or deliberately released: theories that may now, in turn, be spreading on Facebook, the paper said. Genetic studies of the virus have found defects in the proteins it uses to bind to human cells. These are characteristics that someone trying to design a biological weapon might avoid.

Previously, Facebook announced in February that it had expanded its list of misleading health claims to be removed from its platform, including those claiming that “the new coronavirus is man-made or artificially created. During the virus pandemic, Facebook updated its policy against false and misleading new coronavirus information through consultation with global health officials, including the different claims it was running that had been refuted. But a Facebook spokesperson said Wednesday that the relevant origin language has been removed from that list as the debate over the root cause of the new coronavirus is now reopened.

“In light of the ongoing investigation into the origins of the New Coronavirus and through consultation with public health experts, we will no longer remove the claim that the New Coronavirus is man-made from our app,” the Facebook spokesperson said. “We are continuing to work with health experts to keep up with the changing nature of the pandemic and regularly update our policies as new facts and trends emerge,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

U.S. social media companies have faced intense pressure from congressional Democrats to more vigorously combat misinformation about the virus throughout the pandemic, and House lawmakers pulled the chief executives of Facebook, Twitter and Google for hearings on the matter in March, the report said. Other platforms, including Twitter, have said that misleading statements about the root cause of the new crown virus could also violate their policies.

But Facebook’s move marks the first major sign that the prominent social media company is revisiting those rules as the “lab leak theory” gains traction. Spokespeople for Twitter and YouTube did not respond to requests for comment on whether they are revising their policies related to statements about the origins of the new crown virus.