'Fake news' no longer: Facebook lifts ban on suggesting COVID-19 was man-made after Biden orders intel agencies to probe whether coronavirus leaked from Wuhan lab

 Facebook will allow users to claim on its platform that COVID-19 may have originated in a lab in Wuhan, China - a reversal of its previous policy which banned comments suggesting the coronavirus was man-made.

The move comes after Fauci changed his tune on where the virus may have originated - and after Biden ordered his intelligence agencies to launch a probe into whether it leaded from a Wuhan lab.  

'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 or manufactured from our apps,' the company said in a blog post on Wednesday.


'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.'

In April of last year, Facebook had announced that it was imposing limits on ‘harmful misinformation about COVID-19’.

In February of this year, the company announced that it was expanding its crackdown to include claims that the virus was man-made. In a blog post, Facebook said that it would not allow conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines.

The social network’s about-face comes on the same day that President Joe Biden asked his intelligence agencies to ‘redouble their efforts’ to pinpoint the origins of the coronavirus.

Last year, claims by the Trump administration that the coronavirus may have originated in a lab in Wuhan were met with skepticism from mainstream media, which appeared to adopt the view that pathogen was transmitted from bats to humans.

Biden
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is pictured above in January 2020. Facebook on Wednesday announced that it would not ban comments suggesting that COVID-19 originated in a lab

Facebook lifted its ban on user comments about COVID-19 being man-made after Biden (left) orders intel agencies to probe whether coronavirus leaked from Wuhan lab. Right is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

In April of last year, Facebook had announced that it was imposing limits on ‘harmful misinformation about COVID-19’.

In April of last year, Facebook had announced that it was imposing limits on ‘harmful misinformation about COVID-19’.

Democrats and anti-Trump commentators in the press accused the then-president and his administration of advancing a theory about China deliberately creating the coronavirus in order to deflect attention away from its handling of efforts to mitigate the spread of the disease in the US.

But recent reports that have surfaced in the media about an apparent cover-up of the origins of the virus have prompted a re-examination of the issue.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that workers at China's Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized with an illness that resembled COVID-19 – weeks before the coronavirus would begin ravaging China and the world.

That report, while circumstantial in nature and lacking details on what became of the scientists and detailed information on their illness, has ignited new focus for the potential of the theory. 


Claims that vaccines are not effective against preventing disease and that it is safer to get the disease than to get a vaccine have also been banned from the platform.

Posts making such claims will be removed from the website, as well as Facebook-owned Instagram, the company said in the post that came with a list of 'misinformation' it was banning from its platforms.

Earlier this week, Project Veritas claimed that it obtained leaked documents from whistleblowers inside the company which prove that the social network is testing an algorithm that would rate users’ comments according to a ‘vaccine hesitancy score.’

Those comments which discourage others from taking the vaccine would be demoted, according to the documents obtained by Project Veritas.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that workers at China's Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized with an illness that resembled COVID-19 – weeks before the coronavirus would begin ravaging China and the world. Researchers at the lab are seen in this February 2017 file photo

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that workers at China's Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized with an illness that resembled COVID-19 – weeks before the coronavirus would begin ravaging China and the world. Researchers at the lab are seen in this February 2017 file photo

After months of minimizing that possibility as a fringe theory, the Biden administration is joining worldwide pressure for China to be more open about the outbreak, aiming to head off GOP complaints the president has not been tough enough as well as to use the opportunity to press China on alleged obstruction.

Biden asked US intelligence agencies to report back within 90 days.

He directed US national laboratories to assist with the investigation and the intelligence community to prepare a list of specific queries for the Chinese government.

He called on China to cooperate with international probes into the origins of the pandemic.

Republicans, including former President Trump, have promoted the theory that the virus emerged from a laboratory accident rather than naturally through human contact with an infected animal in Wuhan, China.

Biden in a statement said the majority of the intelligence community had 'coalesced' around those two scenarios but 'do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.'

He revealed that two agencies lean toward the animal link and 'one leans more toward' the lab theory, 'each with low or moderate confidence.'

'The United States will also keep working with like-minded partners around the world to press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation and to provide access to all relevant data and evidence,' said Biden.

His statement came after weeks of the administration endeavoring to avoid public discussion of the lab leak theory and privately suggesting it was farfetched.

In another sign of shifting attitudes, the Senate approved two Wuhan lab-related amendments without opposition, attaching them to a largely unrelated bill to increase US investments in innovation.

One of the amendments, from Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, would block US funding of Chinese 'gain of function' research on enhancing the severity or transmissibility of a virus.

Paul has been critical of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious-disease expert, and aggressively questioned him at a recent Senate hearing over the work in China.

The other amendment was from GOP Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa and it would prevent any funding to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Both were approved without roll call votes as part of the broader bill that is still under debate in the Senate.

As for the origin of pandemic, Fauci, a White House coronavirus adviser, said Wednesday that he and most others in the scientific community 'believe that the most likely scenario is that this was a natural occurrence, but no one knows that 100 percent for sure.'

'And since there's a lot of concern, a lot of speculation and since no one absolutely knows that, I believe we do need the kind of investigation where there's open transparency and all the information that’s available, to be made available, to scrutinize,' Fauci said at a Senate hearing.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the White House supports a new World Health Organization investigation in China, but she added that an effective probe 'would require China finally stepping up and allowing access needed to determine the origins.'

Biden still held out the possibility that a firm conclusion may never be reached, given the Chinese government’s refusal to fully cooperate with international investigations.

'The failure to get our inspectors on the ground in those early months will always hamper any investigation into the origin of COVID-19,' he said.

Pictured: The Wuhan lab where some have claimed Covid-19 originated from, which was disputed by WHO researchers on February 9

Pictured: The Wuhan lab where some have claimed Covid-19 originated from, which was disputed by WHO researchers on February 9

Pictured: The Huanan seafood market on February 9, 2021 in Wuhan, China, long believed to have been the site where the pandemic began

Pictured: The Huanan seafood market on February 9, 2021 in Wuhan, China, long believed to have been the site where the pandemic began

Administration officials continue to harbor strong doubts about the lab leak theory.

Rather, they view China's refusal to cooperate in the investigation — particularly on something of such magnitude — as emblematic of other irresponsible actions on the world stage.

Privately, administration officials say the end result, if ever known, won’t change anything, but note China’s stonewalling is now on display for the world to see.

The State Department, which ended one Trump-era probe into the Chinese lab theory this spring, said it was continuing to cooperate with other government agencies and pressed China to cooperate with the world.

‘China’s position that their part in this investigation is complete is disappointing and at odds with the rest of the international community that is working collaboratively across the board to bring an end to this pandemic and improve global health security,’ said spokesman Ned Price.

Research into the origins of the virus is critically important, said Arinjay Banerjee, a virologist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization in Saskatchewan, Canada, because: ‘If you don’t know where it came from, how are you going to stop it from spreading it again?’

‘The great probability is still that this virus came from a wildlife reservoir,’ he said, pointing to the fact that spillover events – when viruses jump from animals to humans – are common in nature, and that scientists already know of two similar beta coronaviruses that evolved in bats and caused epidemics when humans were infected, SARS1 and MERS.

‘The evidence we so far have suggests that this virus came from wildlife,’ he said

However, the case is not completely closed.

‘There are probabilities, and there are possibilities,’ said Banerjee.

‘Because nobody has identified a virus that’s 100 per cent identical to SARS-CoV-2 in any animal, there is still room for researchers to ask about other possibilities.’

Andy Slavitt, Biden’s senior adviser for the coronavirus, said Tuesday that the world needs to ‘get to the bottom ... whatever the answer may be.’

‘We need a completely transparent process from China; we need the WHO to assist in that matter,’ Slavitt said.

‘We don’t feel like we have that now.’ 


'Fake news' no longer: Facebook lifts ban on suggesting COVID-19 was man-made after Biden orders intel agencies to probe whether coronavirus leaked from Wuhan lab 'Fake news' no longer: Facebook lifts ban on suggesting COVID-19 was man-made after Biden orders intel agencies to probe whether coronavirus leaked from Wuhan lab Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 07:48 Rating: 5

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