Facebook says it will no longer remove claims that Covid-19 is man-made or manufactured from its apps “in light of ongoing investigations into the origin of Covid-19 and in consultation with public health experts."
Facebook has long battled a tide of coronavirus-related misinformation by removing posts or putting warning labels on them. It said in December it would remove vaccine-related misinformation, for example.
The move comes as President Joe Biden ordered US intelligence officials to “redouble” their efforts to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, including any possibility the trail might lead to a Chinese laboratory.
“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," Guy Rosen, Facebook's vice president of integrity, said in a statement on Wednesday.
After months of minimising these claims as a fringe theory, the Biden administration is joining worldwide pressure for China to be more open about the outbreak. It aims to head off GOP complaints that Biden has not been tough enough and use the opportunity to press China on alleged obstruction.