Facebook has decided that its users may now suggest that COVID-19 was man-made without getting their posts banned, in a reversal from previous policy as the theory that the virus was cooked up in a Wuhan lab gains traction.
What are the details?
The social media giant told Politico Wednesday that it would no longer take down posts claiming the coronavirus was manufactured, in what the outlet reported was "a move that acknowledges the renewed debate about the virus' origins."
The outlet reported:
Facebook announced in February it had expanded the list of misleading health claims that it would remove from its platforms to include those asserting that "COVID-19 is man-made or manufactured." The tech giant has updated its policies against false and misleading coronavirus information, including its running list of debunked claims, over the course of the pandemic in consultation with global health officials.
The move draws further scrutiny over whether "fact-checking" and post regulation from the social media giant has been political in nature, as Facebook has infamously flagged and even punished users for questioning COVID-19-related policies and rhetoric.
Former President Donald Trump and others have long suggested COVID was leaked from China's Wuhan Institute of Virology, an idea that was dismissed by several in mainstream media for months as a conspiracy theory.
A New York Times COVID reporter even tweeted Wednesday, "Someday we will stop talking about the lab leak theory and maybe even admit its racist roots. But alas, that day is not yet here."
But after The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that multiple workers at the Wuhan lab fell sick with symptoms related to COVID-19 in November of 2019, the mainstream media and others resistant to the lab-leak idea started changing their tunes.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who previously dismissed theories that the virus came from the lab in Wuhan, did a complete reversal — calling for an investigation into the origins of COVID and admitting he is "not convinced" that the disease emerged naturally, as he has long maintained.
Following reports that President Joe Biden's administration shut down a State Department probe launched by the Trump administration aimed at finding out the source of COVID-19, Biden issued a statement calling on the intelligence community to "redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion" between two theories: "whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident."