By: Konrad Holden
In an ironic turn, Facebook is lifting its ban on posts arguing that COVID-19 came from a Chinese lab. It seems that this opinion is now acceptable to Mark Zuckerberg and Big Tech.
Back in February of this year, Facebook announced that it would remove and restrict content that claimed COVID-19 was man-made in a Chinese lab. This “misinformation”, also called the “lab-leak theory,” was deemed a false claim and Facebook users saw their posts deleted and their profiles banned if they persisted.
But, in a veiled admission, Facebook no longer considers this theory to be a false claim and will now allow this content on all its platforms. This is probably the clearest indication that Facebook is acting more as a publisher than as a platform, which feeds an ongoing debate about whether social media platforms should be legally responsible for content posted on their sites.
If the lab-leak theory was “misinformation” in February, but is now a plausible option, did the facts change or did Facebook’s opinion of the facts change? If it is Facebook’s opinion, then the platform is picking and choosing which content it agrees with rather than facilitating a discussion for its users.
While the man-made theory is now fair game on Facebook, the company says that it will still remove other “misinformation” about the coronavirus.
“Whether it’s false or misleading content about Covid-19 and vaccines, climate change, elections or other topics, we’re making sure fewer people see misinformation on our apps.” - Facebook
“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