Sep 16, 2020 - Economy

Facebook, Instagram attach "false information" stamp to Tucker Carlson coronavirus clip

Fox News host Tucker Carlson speaking

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Facebook and Instagram have placed a ”False Information” label on a post from the Fox News show "Tucker Carlson Tonight" in which Carlson interviews Li-Meng Yan, a Chinese virologist, who has previously claimed the coronavirus "is not from nature," on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Facebook has made headlines in recent months for taking increasing action on posts from politicians and political groups containing misinformation. It's added fewer labels to high-profile media companies, which is what makes this label noteworthy.

  • Intelligence agencies have been hesitant to link COVID-19 to a single lab, and many scientists agree it originated as a bat virus before spreading to humans, The New York Times writes.

The big picture: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has pushed back against the notion that the platform is a right-wing echo chamber, but concedes that partisan content does lead to higher levels on engagement. Misinformation often plays into partisan narratives for this reason.

Facebook has taken increased action against posts containing misinformation about COVID-19, under pressure to address the misinformation on its platform. 

  • The social media giant has provided fact-checking resources to add warning labels to posts it thinks may contain coronavirus misinformation to provide users with more context about the virus.
  • Facebook said in August that between April and June, it removed 7 million posts cited for misinformation about the pandemic and added labels to 98 million posts that were deemed false by fact-checkers, but not as harmful to warrant bans. 

What they're saying: “Facebook is working hard to make sure you’re unable to see our latest post regarding a coronavirus whistleblower," Carlson posted. "They don’t want you sharing the video, and they are limiting the number of people who can view it. This is censorship, and we will be addressing it on our show tonight at 8 pm ET on Fox News."

Worth noting: Twitter has suspended Yan's account, but did not find that a similar post from Fox News of the clip violated its misinformation policies, per the Times.

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