Facebook announced Wednesday it will no longer remove claims addressing the possible origins of the coronavirus and whether it is man-made or manufactured.
The policy change came on the same day President Joe Biden ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to “redouble their efforts” to investigate the origin of the virus, despite ending a State Department investigation under former President Donald Trump seeking the same goal, as Breitbart News reported.
Facebook released a memo detailing its new stance, pointing to “ongoing investigations” as reason for its change of heart while adding the proviso other restrictions remain.
A spokesman for the company said:
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.
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.
Facebook announced last December it would remove what it decides are false claims about coronavirus vaccines including posts debunked by Facebook’s chosen health experts.
In October, Google-owned YouTube made a similar promise. The decision expanded Facebook’s current rules relating to theories related to the coronavirus pandemic, its origins and the vaccination programs underway world wide.
Facebook’s move Wednesday marks the first major step by social media companies to address those rules as the Wuhan lab-leak theory is revisited. Other platforms including YouTube and Twitter are yet to respond.
In a statement issued Wednesday night by the Chinese Embassy in the U.S., a spokesperson cited by ABC News called the idea of a lab leak a “conspiracy theory” and said “some political forces have been fixated on political manipulation and blame game.”
“To politicize origin tracing, a matter of science, will not only make it hard to find the origin of the virus, but give free rein to the ‘political virus’ and seriously hamper international cooperation on the pandemic,” the spokesperson said.
“Out of a sense of responsibility towards the health of mankind, we support a comprehensive study of all early cases of COVID-19 found worldwide and a thorough investigation into some secretive bases and biological laboratories all over the world. Such study and investigation shall be full, transparent and evidence-based, and shall get to the bottom to make everything clear.”