May 26, 2021 - Technology

Facebook says it will no longer remove posts claiming COVID is human-made

War room leader for Brazil elections Lexi Sturdy works in Facebook's "War Room," during a media demonstration on October 17, 2018, in Menlo Park, California.

Facebook's "War Room" in Menlo Park, California, which tackles misinformation. Photo: Noah Berger/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook posts claiming that COVID-19 was "man-made" will no longer be removed, the social media giant announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: The lifting of the ban reflects a reinvigorated debate on the origins of the pandemic in recent days, following a Wall Street Journal report that three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized in November 2019 after falling ill.

  • President Biden has asked the U.S. intelligence community to step up efforts to investigate the origins of the coronavirus and provide a report within 90 days that "could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion."

The big picture: Biden administration officials and others criticized an investigation by a team of scientists assembled by the World Health Organization and China's government, that returned inconclusive findings on the pandemic's origins.

  • Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra called for a "transparent, science-based" follow-up investigation during a World Health Assembly meeting on Tuesday.

What they're saying: "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," a Facebook spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

  • "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."
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