Facebook will no longer delete posts that claim that Covid-19 was man-made. The move comes amid increased calls from the Washington for further investigations into the allegations after the Wall Street Journal reported that three scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology were admitted at the hospital in late 2019. The three are said to have exhibited similar symptoms with the Covid-19 virus.
The allegations that the virus was man-made first surfaced in early 2020, but were quickly shut down as conspiracy theories. US President Joe Biden has ordered the intelligence community to find out “whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident.” He has given them 90 days to report back on the findings of the origin of the Covid-19 virus.
“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 from our apps,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
“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.”
The ideas currently making rounds are the virus might have accidentally escaped from the lab, and that it was probably not man-made or was not released on purpose. It is inevitable that these theories will find their way to Facebook. Scientists who studied the genetic composition of the virus have found a flaw in the protein it uses to bind to human cells. According to their report, anyone trying to manufacture a bioweapon would have avoided a component with such features.
Facebook announced in February that it was expanding its list of labelled posts to include those that alleged that the virus was man-made or manufactured. Social media networks including Twitter and Instagram have also taken to labelling posts, redirecting users to seek information about the virus from trustworthy sources such as the World Health Organization (WHO)
The latest move makes Facebook the first social media platform to revisit and amend its stance on information associated with the pandemic. Twitter, Google and YouTube have not commented on the matter.