In an update to its misinformation policies, Facebook has confirmed it will no longer remove posts that suggest COVID-19 was man-made or created in a lab. The change serves as a response to a new probe President Joe Biden has introduced into the origins of the coronavirus, a virus that has led to over 3.5 million deaths around the world.
The news was first reported by Politico.
The idea that COVID-19 was created in a lab in Wuhan was originally believed to be a false conspiracy theory and a mere rumor spread across the internet, leading to Facebook actively taking down posts that suggested it for fear of fake or harmful information spreading on its platform. But a report out of The Wall Street Journal , which fueled Biden’s announcement, said three scientists in the Wuhan Institute of Virology came down with symptoms of COVID-19 in late 2019 and were hospitalized. It now seems that the idea of the virus being man-made is again on the table, and Facebook doesn’t want to discredit that.
According to Biden, the intelligence community will “redouble” its efforts in finding the true origin of the virus, and besides it coming from an infected animal which came in contact with a human, being created in a lab is a strong possibility. Hence, if you share an article or image suggesting that theory, Facebook will no longer tell you you’re spreading fake news.
“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,” said a Facebook spokesperson in an emailed statement to Politico. “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.”
With a statement like this, you can expect to hear more about changes to Facebook’s fake news policies as new discoveries are made and more information is shared from health experts.