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A hot potato: Facebook has been stringent when it comes to enforcing its Covid-19 misinformation rules, but there’s one claim the social media giant will no longer remove: that the virus was man-made or manufactured.
As reported by Politico, Facebook altered its policy following a Wall Street Journal report of three scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology being hospitalized in late 2019 with symptoms similar to those experienced when infected with the virus.
The report led to president Joe Biden ordering intelligence agents to investigate the Covid-19’s origin and the lab-leak theory. “I have now asked the Intelligence Community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion,” Biden said.
The Wuhan Institute of Virology. Did Covid-19 originate here?
The US Intelligence Community has “coalesced around two likely scenarios” regarding the origins of Covid-19: it emerged from human contact with an infected animal, or it came from a laboratory accident. The IC is currently leaning toward the former scenario.
Misinformation of any kind, particularly when it comes to that of a political or medical nature, has long been a problem for social media sites. Facebook started its battle against Covid-19 posts in February 2020, when it said it would ban misleading coronavirus ads. Following a surge in conspiracy theories, including the bizarrely popular belief that it was caused by 5G cellular towers, Facebook increased efforts to remove false claims and even started notifying users who “liked” coronavirus-related fake news.
With the policy update, Facebook will no longer remove claims such as Covid-19 was made in a lab or is a government-created bioweapon. “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 company writes.
Facebook earlier this year said it had removed more than 12 million pieces of Covid-19/vaccine-related content containing misinformation that could lead to imminent physical harm.