Facebook will no longer take down posts claiming that COVID-19 was man-made or manufactured, a move that could fuel more speculation and conspiracy theories on how the deadly virus started.
The social network’s change in policy comes as the White House has called for the U.S. intelligence community to conduct a deeper probe into the origins of COVID-19 after reports that three scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China were hospitalized in late 2019 with symptoms that are consistent with COVID.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden said in a statement he asked the intel agencies to report within 90 days on the likely origins of COVID-19, with the hopes “will collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion.” The move is a sharp departure from the White House’s stance that the World Health Organization (WHO) should take the lead to reveal the virus came from.
And now with the new revelations that lab researchers in China were sick prior to the worldwide spread of COVID, there is renewed debate and suspicions about what happened, especially since the intel agencies have been divided and “coalesced around two likely scenarios,” according to Biden’s statement.
A Facebook spokesperson said Wednesday in an emailed statement that the company regularly updates a list of claims that have been removed from the platform during the pandemic on the advice of health experts.
The spokesperson also added that the original language had been removed from the list because of the surging debate about where the virus originated.
“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,” the Facebook spokesperson said. “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.”