Following appeals from President Biden and other officials for more inquiry into the pandemic’s origins, Facebook announced Wednesday that it would no longer prohibit posts alleging Covid-19 is artificial. The news was a complete 180 for the social media behemoth. Following conversations with top health agencies, including the World Health Organization, who had “debunked” the allegation.
Facebook announced in February that it would remove posts stating the virus was artificial or created. A Facebook spokesperson said, “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.”
In a statement earlier Monday, President Biden said that he had instructed his national security adviser to prepare a study into the virus’s origins, including the potential that it originated as a result of a laboratory accident shortly after he took office.
Concerns about Facebook and other social media companies’ COVID-19 content restrictions have come from both sides of the political spectrum. Republicans have accused platforms of suffocating open discourse, including debates on the lab leak idea, while Democrats have pressured media to crack down on the propagation of misinformation.