Republicans in Congress pounced on Facebook after the tech giant suddenly reversed its its policy of removing posts calling the COVID-19 ‘man-made’ now that President Joe Biden has ordered the intelligence community to review the origins of the coronavirus.
‘The arrogance of @Facebook to decide where and how precisely covid originated, and who should be able to talk about it, is stunning. But sadly typical,’ fumed Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Twitter.
‘The more we learn, the clearer it is that Communist China played a role in killing millions of people,’ said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.).
‘This is why Big Tech must never be the arbiter of truth,’ she said in a statement to DailyMail.com.
The blasts come as the ‘lab leak’ proposition has gone from a notion derided as a conspiracy theory to something viable enough that senior government officials are demanding be at least examined.
Ted Cruz tweeted: ‘This is why the Big Tech overlords shouldn’t be involved in fact checking’.
Facebook has lifted its ban on user comments about COVID-19 being man-made after Joe Biden (left) ordered intelligence agencies to probe whether coronavirus leaked from a Wuhan lab, less than four months after saying it was a conspiracy theory. Republicans are blasting the company for its turnaround
Also slamming the company was Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.). ‘This was another sorry attempt by Facebook to shut down discussions that didn’t fit its political narrative. Social media platforms should encourage open debate instead of blocking content that offends their political views,’ he said.
The tech giant was already facing political pressure in Congress over its efforts to impose guardrails on false election claims at election time and its privacy practices, as well as its role as a conduit for potential election interference and its overall market power.
‘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 statement Wednesday.
That was a stark turnaround from February, when it came out with a statement on its policy for ‘removing more false claims about Covid-19 and vaccines.’
‘This is why Big Tech must never be the arbiter of truth,’ said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)
Donald Trump Jr. said the Wuhan lab leak theory ‘always made the most sense,’ although many scientists have pointed to prior viruses that jumped from animals to humans. The Wuhan Institute of Virology is located near where the virus first emerged
‘Following consultations with leading health organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), we are expanding the list of false claims we will remove to include additional debunked claims about the coronavirus and vaccines,’ it said then.
Since that time, many top scientists, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have said the potential of a lab leak should at least be investigated.
Fauci said at a hearing this week if he still believed the virus was a ‘natural occurrence.’
‘I still believe that the most likely scenario was that this was a natural occurrence, but no one knows that 100 per cent for sure,’ Fauci responded.
‘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.’
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) deemed the Biden administration’s intel investigation ‘too little, too late.’
‘Twitter users have never been stopped from sharing stories about the lab theory. Last September, Chinese virologist Dr. Li Meng Yan was suspended. She claimed it was because she’d promoted the theory. Twitter reactivated her account a month later. While neither Twitter nor YouTube have banned people from discussing the theory, they do both have policies on blocking COVID content that they deem to be ‘misleading’. Twitter on Thursday told
that it wasn’t changing its policies on the subject, but a spokesman refused to confirm which stories Twitter deems to be false. YouTube, a which is owned by Google, has said nothing on the subject.’
Facebook was accused of ‘showing its true and ugly colors’ and smothering free speech to cosy up to China as it scrapped its ban on posts debating whether Covid-19 could be man-made – but only after Joe Biden ordered the CIA to probe if the virus came from a Wuhan lab.
Mark Zuckerberg‘s global policy chief Nick Clegg, the former British Member of Parliament and Liberal Democrat leader, has also been branded ‘feeble’ for allowing months of censorship on the social network.
Critics branded Facebook’s behavior had been ‘contemptible’ and begged them to respect free speech rather than ‘ingratiating’ themselves with states such as China, which has banned the website but remains a $5billion-a-year ad market.
The criticism spanned to Britain as well. British Conservative Member of Parliament Peter Bone told MailOnline: ‘It does seem to me that Facebook is not an open platform for people to put their views on. It is an open platform for people to put their views on as long as they agree with Facebook.
‘Their decisions are based on politics not on principle… if it is fashionable with the liberal elite it can go down. If it is liberal elite say it it must be OK, if it’s President Trump that says it it must be awful.
‘The thing that Trump was saying is exactly the same as Biden is saying, but Trump was according to Facebook not allowed to say that. Whereas everyone loves Biden from Facebook therefore it must be right. It is one rule for one political view and another for another.’
And the liberal media in the US, who lampooned Donald Trump when he said a year ago said he had ‘a high degree of confidence’ that the virus escaped from a lab, have finally conceded that he may have been right – after a year ridiculing the suggestion.
Facebook ruled in February it would ‘remove’ any posts that claimed that coronavirus was ‘man-made’ or that the virus was ‘created by an individual, government or country’ – branding it ‘misinformation’ and a ‘debunked claim’ that required ‘aggressive action’ from moderators.
But today the tech giant reversed its ban on its users discussing the theory, just hours after President Biden ordered his intelligence agencies to launch a probe into whether it was man-made after all – and report back in 90 days.
In April of last year, Facebook had announced that it was imposing limits on ‘harmful misinformation about COVID-19’, and in February this year this was extended to the lab theory spoken about widely by Donald Trump
Mark Zuckerberg’s global policy chief Nick Clegg, the former British MP and Liberal Democrat leader, has also been branded ‘feeble’ by critics
How Facebook changed its tune on the Wuhan lab theory now being probed by Joe Biden’s spy network
Facebook said: ‘For the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency, we also remove additional COVID-19 misinformation that public health authorities say could lead to negative outcomes. The claims that we have applied this to include, COVID-19 is man-made, including:
- Claims that it was manufactured or bio-engineered
- Claims that it is a bioweapon
- Claims that it was created by an individual, government or country
- Excluding claims that it was studied in, came from or was leaked from a lab without specifically calling it man-made
- E.g. ‘The coronavirus is actually a bioweapon!’
May 26 2021, as Joe Biden launches his Wuhan probe
‘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,’
‘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 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.’
The tech firm has been accused of bowing to Beijing, liberal media outlets as well as left-wing politicians and commentators, who reacted furiously when then president Donald Trump laid blame for the fast-spreading virus on Beijing, calling it the ‘China virus’ or ‘Kung Flu’ and suggesting there was evidence it was borne from a laboratory in Wuhan, the epicentre of the pandemic in early 2020.
President Biden’s top epidemiologist Dr Anthony Fauci has also u-turned about where the virus may have originated this week, saying ‘you never know’ – but last year he insisted there was ‘no evidence’ to point to coronavirus having been manufactured when Trump raised it as a possibility.
America is looking at the theory seriously, leading to China hitting out at the ‘dark history’ of the US intelligence community after President Biden’s probe was announced.
But critics also turned on Facebook, accusing them of stifling free speech.
Tory MP Bob Seely told MailOnline that Facebook’s behaviour was ‘contemptible’ and he hoped they would now respect free speech rather than ‘ingratiating’ themselves with states such as China.
‘I think it is absolutely contemptible and it shows their commitment to democracy is an incredibly thin veneer over their commercial interests. So many big tech firms are showing their true and frankly really ugly colours,’ he said.
‘This is not a conspiracy theory. There is a genuine debate about where the Wuhan virus came from.
What other Covid-19 claims that have been open to debate amongst scientists have been banned by Facebook?
‘Wearing a face mask does not help prevent the spread of Covid-19’
The consensus is that masks are better than nothing because they offer some, but not complete, protection against people inhaling the virus and probably stop a lot of the virus if the wearer is the infected person.
Studies done in 2020 and 2021 have found conflicting things, with some pointing out that they effectively stop thousands of potentially infectious droplets being breathed out and that proper medical masks could avoid 99 per cent of transmission.
Another in Denmark found that mask wearers were equally likely to catch the virus as people without masks, and New Mexico State University found droplets could still get through the cloth.
‘Social distancing does not help prevent the spread of Covid-19’
The fundamental principle of social distancing – staying away from other people – is clearly a good way to stop the virus spreading. But scientists and authorities have disagreed on suitable distances.
In the UK the rule is 2 metres (6’6′) or ‘one metre plus’ if someone is wearing a mask or is outdoors or behind a screen. Experts said almost no virus particles could make it through 2m of moving air to infect someone.
But the World Health Organization is less strict and its official guidance on social distancing is to keep people 1m (3’3′) apart. Some countries have followed this while others have been more cautious, like Britain.
A study by MIT in Boston found that social distancing indoors could give people a false sense of security and that it wasn’t enough on its own to stop the spread of Covid, which is airborne.
‘Covid-19 vaccines kill or seriously harm people’
Nobody died or became seriously ill because of a vaccine in the clinical trials of the main jabs being used in Europe, the US and Australia, which proved for scientists that they were safe enough to use in the general population.
But since they have been rolled out to hundreds of millions of people worldwide, a tiny proportion of people receiving virus-based vaccines such as the AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson ones have developed blood clots. An even smaller number of those people died – believed to be as a result of the clots.
The risk of this happening is, for the majority of adults – and all adults in countries with big outbreaks – significantly smaller than the risk of dying of Covid.
Vaccine safety is being constantly monitored and reported in detail by scientists and medical regulators around the world.
But the clotting has worried some governments enough to ban certain age groups from using the AZ vaccine, or have chosen not to use it at all.
‘For Facebook to be shutting that conversation down is absolutely appalling.
‘Time and again these wretched big tech firms are showing that when it comes to their taxes, when it comes to telling the truth, when it comes to protecting freedom of speech, they are absolutely on the wrong side of the argument.
‘I find Nick Clegg’s behaviour, given he once professed to have ‘liberal values’ particularly feeble and contemptible.’
Mr Seely said he hoped the change in position was now honoured ‘My very strong recommendation is that they re-embrace freedom of speech and understand their job is not to censor people but to provide a platform where people within the law can express themselves and ideas freely,’ he said.
‘I suggest they get back to that function rather than trying to ingratiate themselves with China or anyone else.’
Tory former leader Iain Duncan Smith said the ‘coincidences were too great’ to assume that Covid came out of a market in Wuhan and debate should not be ‘stifled’. ‘You have a real problem I think the power now of the social media giants is transcending the power of governments,’ he said.
‘These are decisions about debate. They are not about conspiracy.’
China has reacted furiously to Biden’s call for a new investigation into the virus’s origins, accusing him of ‘politicising’ the issue and suggesting that US biolabs should be investigated instead.
Lijian Zhao, foreign ministry spokesman who has been Beijing’s point-man in trying to pin blame for the pandemic outside the country’s borders, accused the US of trying to shift blame away from its own high Covid case and death counts – and suggested security services may be involved in a cover-up.
Meanwhile Hu Xijin, editor of the state mouthpiece Global Times newspaper, accused Biden of trying to discredit a WHO investigation which concluded that a lab leak is ‘unlikely’ – though critics have previously blasted that report as a China-centric whitewash.
China’s American embassy also hit out, accusing Biden and his security services of being ‘fixated on political manipulation and (the) blame game’ in a statement on its website.
Previously the lab theory was banned by Facebook, with several of the earliest reported cases of covid linked to a wet market in Wuhan, which sold a range of fresh food produce, including fish and animals.
Some suggested it may have come from a bat, because they are host to a more diverse range of coronaviruses than humans or from a pangolin, a scaly anteater from Asia used in Chinese medicine and sold for their meat and skin.
In April of last year, Facebook announced that it was imposing limits on ‘harmful misinformation about COVID-19’, including about how dangerous the virus is and how many people it was killing.
And in February of this year, the company announced that it was expanding its crackdown to include claims that the virus was man-made, insisting it was a conspiracy theory that had been ‘debunked’.
But last year Sir Richard Dearlove, who served as chief of Britain’s MI6 spy service from 1999 to 2004, said last year: ‘I subscribe to the theory… that it’s an engineered escapee from the Wuhan Institute [of Virology].’
Facebook has insisted that its ban was based on advice from experts, including from the World Health Organisation.
A spokesman said: ‘Throughout the pandemic, based on guidance from leading global health organizations and local health authorities, we have been removing content with false claims or conspiracy theories that could cause harm. Our policies mirror the public health response and therefore in light of ongoing investigations into the origin of COVID-19 and in consultation with public health experts, we will no longer remove claims that COVID-19 is man-made from our apps’.
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.
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 investigators.
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.
On May 1, 2020, CNN reported that Trump had ‘contradicted’ the intel community by claiming to have seen evidence the virus came from a lab.
There is outrage over the fact that for the last year, the theory has been widely discredited by the media in America when it may explain the entire pandemic
How the MoS has been probing if the virus stemmed from a Wuhan lab since April 2020
APRIL 4, 2020:
Ministers fear that the coronavirus pandemic might have been caused by a leak from a Chinese laboratory, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Senior Government sources say that while ‘the balance of scientific advice’ is still that the deadly virus was first transmitted to humans from a live animal market in Wuhan, a leak from a laboratory in the Chinese city is ‘no longer being discounted’.
One member of Cobra, the emergency committee led by Boris Johnson, said last night that while the latest intelligence did not dispute the virus was ‘zoonotic’ – originating in animals – it did not rule out that the virus first spread to humans after leaking from a Wuhan laboratory.
APRIL 15, 2020:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has demanded that China ‘come clean’ following reports that coronavirus originated in a Chinese laboratory, not as a bioweapon, but as part of bungling experiments to prove that Chinese scientists were superior to Americans in identifying emerging virus threats.
It comes after President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the U.S. is trying to determine whether the coronavirus first crossed to humans accidentally during experiments with bats at the Wuhan Institute of Virology Lab.
MAY 2, 2020:
Wuhan virus lab ‘cover-up’: Startling photos of scientists wearing little protection as they handle deadly bat samples vanish from website of Chinese institute at the centre of global suspicion over pandemic
Pictures which appear to show slack safety standards at the Chinese laboratory at the centre of international suspicion over Covid-19 have been systematically deleted from its website – as Donald Trump continues to ramp up the pressure on Beijing over its potential role in the outbreak.
US President Donald Trump announced that he had seen intelligence that gave him a ‘high degree of confidence’ that the global crisis had its origins in the institute – a month after The Mail on Sunday first revealed that British Cabinet Ministers had received classified briefings raising the possibility of a leak from the institute.
JANUARY 2, 2021:
Matthew Pottinger, who is President Donald Trump‘s respected Deputy National Security Adviser, told politicians from around the world that even China’s leaders now openly admit their previous claims that the virus originated in a Wuhan market are false.
Mr Pottinger said that the latest intelligence points to the virus leaking from the top-secret Wuhan Institute of Virology, 11 miles from the market, saying: ‘There is a growing body of evidence that the lab is likely the most credible source of the virus.’
JANUARY 9, 2021:
The Chinese government is facing fresh accusations of a cover-up after officials deleted crucial online data about the laboratory suspected of being the source of Covid-19.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that hundreds of pages of information relating to studies carried out by the top-secret Wuhan Institute of Virology have been wiped.
Details of more than 300 studies, including many investigating diseases that pass from animals to humans, published online by the state-run National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) are no longer available.
APRIL 24, 2021:
Scientists studying bat diseases at China‘s maximum-security laboratory in Wuhan were engaged in a massive project to investigate animal viruses alongside leading military officials – despite their denials of any such links.
Documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday reveal that a nationwide scheme, directed by a leading state body, was launched nine years ago to discover new viruses and detect the ‘dark matter’ of biology involved in spreading diseases.
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.
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.’
Pictured: The Huanan seafood market on February 9, 2021 in Wuhan, China, long believed to have been the site where the pandemic began
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
Pictured: The Wuhan lab where some have claimed Covid-19 originated from, which was disputed by WHO researchers on February 9
From 5G masts to face masks: The 50+ claims about Covid-19 that have been banned from Facebook posts
Facebook say they ‘remove misinformation when public health authorities conclude that the information is false and likely to contribute to imminent violence or physical harm’, especially on ‘the existence or severity of COVID-19’.
The Facebook guidance states they will remove:
Claims that deny the existence of the COVID-19 disease or pandemic
Claims that downplay the severity of COVID-19, such as:
Claims that COVID-19 is no more dangerous to people than the common flu or cold
Claims that no one has died from COVID-19
Claims that the mortality rate of COVID-19 is the same or lower than seasonal influenza
Claims that having a flu jab or flu vaccine is more likely to kill you than COVID-19
Claims that the number of deaths caused by COVID-19 are much lower than the official figure (requires additional information and/or context)
Claims about the cause of COVID-19 that are linked to 5G communication technologies, such as:
Claims that COVID-19 social distancing orders are really just a way to install 5G wireless communication technology infrastructure
Claims that the symptoms of COVID-19 are actually the effect of 5G communication technologies. E.g. ‘No one has died from COVID-19’, ‘Social distancing orders are really just a way to install 5G infrastructure’, ‘COVID-19 is not real!’
Claims that any group is immune or cannot die from COVID-19 or that a specific activity or treatment results in immunity
Claims that COVID-19 cannot be transmitted in certain climates, weather conditions or locations
Claims that COVID-19 can be transmitted from anything other than human-to-human transmission, such as:
Claims that COVID-19 is the cause of or transmitted by 5G technologies
Claims that COVID-19 is transmitted by the flu jab or flu vaccine, or that having the flu vaccine or jab makes people more susceptible/likely to get COVID-19
Claims that COVID-19 is transmitted by house flies or mosquitoes
Claims that COVID-19 vaccines are the cause of or infect people with COVID-19 E.g. ‘Elderly people are immune from COVID-19’, ‘COVID-19 cannot be transmitted in tropical climates’, ‘The COVID-19 vaccine causes COVID-19!’
Claims that, for the average person, something can guarantee prevention from getting COVID-19 or can guarantee recovery from COVID-19 before such a cure or prevention has been approved, including:
Claims about wearing a face mask, including:
Claims that wearing a face mask does not help prevent the spread of COVID-19
Claims that face masks include or are connected to 5G technology
Claims that wearing a face mask can make the wearer ill
Claims that social/physical distancing does not help prevent the spread of COVID-19
Claims that could discourage someone from having a government-approved COVID-19 test, including:
Claims that COVID-19 can be successfully tested without an approved test
Claims that COVID-19 tests actually come pre-infected or can infect you with COVID-19
Claims that COVID-19 tests approved by public health authorities cannot detect COVID-19
Claims about COVID-19 vaccines that contribute to vaccine rejection, including:
Claims about the availability or existence of COVID-19 vaccines, specifically:
Claims that COVID-19 vaccines do not exist or have not been approved
Claims that something other than a COVID-19 vaccine can vaccinate you against COVID-19
Claims about the safety or serious side effects of COVID-19 vaccines, including:
Claims that COVID-19 vaccines kill or seriously harm people (such as causing blood clots)
Claims that COVID-19 vaccines cause harmful diseases such as ALS, multiple sclerosis, COVID-19, the new COVID-19 strain or autism
Claims that building immunity by getting COVID-19 is safer than having the vaccine
Claims that COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe for a specific group of people, if that group is identified based on protected characteristics or other identifiers not directly related to their personal health, age or disabilities (e.g. social status, religion or political views)
Claims that the COVID-19 vaccine changes people’s DNA
Claims that COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility, miscarriage or sterility
Claims about the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines which are incredulous or irrational, such as taking the vaccine turns you into a monkey
Claims about the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, including:
Claims that COVID-19 vaccines do not provide any immunity to people
Claims that COVID-19 vaccines are not effective in preventing COVID-19
Claims about how the COVID-19 vaccine was developed or its ingredients, including:
Claims that COVID-19 vaccines contain toxic, prohibited or harmful ingredients, microchips, animal products or anything not on the vaccine ingredient list
Claims that COVID-19 vaccines are untested
Claims that COVID-19 vaccines contain the mark of the beast
Claims that COVID-19 vaccines are not tested against a placebo during clinical trials
Claims that people died as a result of the COVID-19 Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine during clinical trials (Note: We allow claims that people died during the COVID-19 Pfizer/BioNTech clinical trials)
Claims that COVID-19 vaccines contain, or were developed, produced or designed from/with, human tissue from aborted foetuses/aborted foetal tissue.
Claims involving conspiracy theories about a COVID-19 vaccine or vaccination programme, including:
Claims that COVID-19 vaccines are designed to or were developed in order to control a population for non-public health purposes
Claims that specific populations are being used or targeted in order to test the true safety or efficacy of a COVID-19 vaccine
Claims that misrepresent the access, availability or eligibility of health services, such as hospitals, emergency responders, ambulance response, treatments and vaccines.
Claims that hospitals or a specific hospital is closed and will not permit infected people.
Claims that only certain people are allowed to receive medical care for COVID-19.
Claims that hospitals kill patients in order to inflate the number of COVID-19 deaths, to get more money or in order to sell people’s organs
E.g. ‘Hospitals kill patients to increase their COVID-19 numbers and get more money!’
Claims about other possible predictions. E.g. ‘In October 2019, the Event 201 pandemic exercise predicted that the COVID-19 pandemic would happen.’
COVID-19 is not new, including:
As proven by the existence of animal vaccines for coronavirus
As proven by disinfectant product labels
E.g. ‘Don’t believe that COVID-19 is anything new. There have been animal vaccines for coronavirus for years.’
Health authorities such as the WHO or CDC do not recommend that healthy people wear masks.
E.g. ‘The WHO does not recommend that healthy people wear masks.’
Vaccines cause autism
E.g. ‘Increased vaccinations are why so many kids have autism these days.’
Vaccines cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
E.g. ‘Don’t you know that vaccines cause SIDS?’
Vaccines cause the disease against which they are meant to protect, or cause the person to be more likely to get the disease
E.g. ‘Taking a vaccine actually makes you more likely to get the disease as there’s a strain of the disease inside. Beware!’
Vaccines or their ingredients are deadly, toxic, poisonous, harmful or dangerous
E.g. ‘Sure, you can take vaccines, if you don’t mind putting poison in your body.’
Natural immunity is safer than vaccine-acquired immunity
E.g. ‘It’s safest to just get the disease rather than the vaccine.’
It is dangerous to have several vaccines in a short period of time, even if that timing is medically recommended
E.g. ‘Never take more than one vaccine at the same time, that is dangerous – I don’t care what your doctor tells you!’
Vaccines are not effective in preventing the disease against which they purport to protect
E.g. ‘Vaccines actually don’t do anything to stop you from getting the disease.’
Acquiring measles cannot cause death (requires additional information and/or context)
E.g. ‘Don’t worry about whether you get measles, it can’t be fatal’
Vitamin C is as effective as vaccines in preventing diseases for which vaccines exist.
Pages, groups, profiles and Instagram accounts that repeatedly post misinformation or coordinate harm (see Coordinating Harm Policies at the top of this entry) related to COVID-19, vaccines and health may face restrictions, including (but not limited to) reduced distribution, removal from recommendations or removal from our site.
US liberal media’s Covid U-turn: A year after TRASHING theory that COVID originated from a Wuhan lab because Trump supported the suggestion – America’s woke mainstream news outlets suddenly start asking if it’s true!
The liberal media have finally conceded that COVID-19 may have originated in a Wuhan laboratory – after a year spent ridiculing the suggestion.
The first fatality from COVID-19 was reported by Chinese state media on January 11, 2020, when a 61-year-old man who was a regular customer at a market in Wuhan died. The first confirmed case in the United States was 10 days later, when a man returned to Washington state from Wuhan.
Within a week, on January 26, 2020, the first article blaming the Wuhan Institute of Virology for the outbreak was published, in The Washington Times. Yet most mainstream media disputed the claims, dismissing them outright or even decrying them as racist.
When Donald Trump, on May 1, 2020, said he had ‘a high degree of confidence’ that the virus escaped from a lab, the New York Times, CNN, and NPR were quick to mock his comments.
CNN, which by the end of the Trump administration was brazen in its hostility to the president and his advisors, was almost gleeful in its mockery of the idea that the virus could have come from a laboratory.
The Washington Post, New York Times, and NPR were equally dismissive of suggestions that the virus could have come from a laboratory.
Some outlets, such as the Huffington Post, even branded any suggestion the virus could have stemmed from a lab as a ‘toxic conspiracy theory.’
The Washington Post published a fact checker piece on May 25 saying the theory had ‘suddenly’ become credible after it was repeatedly brought up. It came after a year of naysaying from the liberal media who never accepted that it might be true
There is outrage over the fact that for the last year, the theory has been widely discredited by the media in America when it may explain the entire pandemic
Few were able to suggest that COVID-19 could have stemmed from a research facility without backlash but that didn’t stop some media, including the Daily Mail, from questioning the narrative.
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson was also clear in demanding an investigation into whether it could have escaped from the lab.
Finally, in the past few months, came the first signs that opinion was beginning to change.
In January, a World Health Organization (WHO) report only served to raise more questions after Beijing strictly controlled an on-site visit and who the researchers compiling the report spoke to. The WHO team was only allowed three hours inside the Wuhan lab and was unable to examine any of the Wuhan institute’s safety logs or records of testing on its staff.
China’s actions led to Biden’s White House calling for greater transparency.
Even Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, said that the visit was inconclusive, adding that ‘all hypotheses are open’ and warranted future study.
By May 11, Fauci, had accepted that the idea of the virus escaping from a lab had been too quickly dismissed.
Asked whether the virus originated naturally, Fauci replied that he wants to look closer into the matter.
‘I am not convinced about that,’ he said. ‘I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened.
‘Certainly, the people who investigated it say it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could have been something else, and we need to find that out. So, you know, that’s the reason why I said I’m perfectly in favor of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus.’
Fauci’s revelation came as a shock to many on the left who have accepted China’s narrative that coronavirus spread from a wet market since the virus first emerged.
Of course, China continues to insist that COVID-19 did not originate in the Wuhan lab.
‘The U.S. keeps concocting inconsistent claims and clamoring to investigate labs in Wuhan,’ China’s foreign ministry said in a written statement on May 24. This fully shows that some people in the U.S. don’t care about facts and truth.’
On May 1, 2020, CNN reported that Trump had ‘contradicted’ the intel community by claiming to have seen evidence the virus came from a lab.
‘President Donald Trump contradicted a rare on-the-record statement from his own intelligence community by claiming Thursday that he has seen evidence that gives him a ‘high degree of confidence’ the novel coronavirus originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China, but declined to provide details to back up his assertion.
‘The comments undercut a public statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued just hours earlier which stated no such assessment has been made and continues to ‘rigorously examine’ whether the outbreak ‘began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.’
‘Yes, I have,’ Trump said when asked whether he’s seen evidence that would suggest the virus originated in the lab. Later, asked why he was confident in that assessment, Trump demurred.
MAY 1 2020: On May 1, 2020, CNN reported that Trump had ‘contradicted’ the intel community by claiming to have seen evidence the virus came from a lab. They pointed to how rare it was for the intelligence community to make a statement
MAY 5 2020: Chris Cillizza wrote an opinion piece saying Fauci had ‘crushed Trump’s theory’ about the origins of the virus
‘I can’t tell you that. I’m not allowed to tell you that,’ the report read.
Then on May 5, 2020, their editor-at-large Chris Cillizza wrote a scathing attack on the suggestion, entitled: Anthony Fauci just crushed Donald Trump’s theory on the origins of the coronavirus.
‘Before we play the game of ‘he said, he said’ remember this: Only one of these two people is a world-renowned infectious disease expert. And it’s not Donald Trump,’ Cillizza wrote.
‘In short, Fauci’s view on the origins of the disease matters a whole lot more than Trump’s opinion about where it came from.
‘Especially because, outside of Trump and his immediate inner circle, most people in a position to know are very, very skeptical of the Trump narrative that the virus came out of a lab – whether accidentally or on purpose.’
Cillizza’s article followed on from one four days earlier, headlined: ‘Trump contradicts US intel community by claiming he’s seen evidence coronavirus originated in Chinese lab’.
Yet fast forward almost a year, and the tone had greatly changed.
Dr Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, spoke on March 26 this year to Robert Redfield, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC).
Redfield said that he had concluded the virus escaped from a lab.
‘I am of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, you know, escaped,’ he said.
‘Now, other people don’t believe that, that’s fine. Science will eventually figure it out.
OCTOBER 2020: CNN published another report about how the theory came from a ‘shoddy’ paper that was backed by Bannon. It claimed there was no proof whatsoever behind the theory
MARCH 2021: The former CDC head, Dr Robert Redfield, on CNN in March 2021, saying he believes the virus came from a lab. He told the reporter: ‘I am of the point of view, I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, escaped. Other people don’t believe that. That’s fine, science will eventually figure it out. It’s not unusual for respiratory pathogens that are being worked on in a laboratory to infect the laboratory worker.’ CNN called it ‘controversial’
MAY 2021: On May 24, a new report was which said US intelligence had found there was some evidence the virus came from a Wuhan lab
‘It’s not unusual for respiratory pathogens that are being worked on in the laboratory to infect the laboratory worker.’
On May 23, The Wall Street Journal reported that three researchers from Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report
The following day the paper reported on a mysterious mine around 80 miles outside Wuhan where, in April 2012, six miners here fell sick after entering the mine to clear bat guano. Three of them died.
Chinese scientists from the Wuhan Institute of Virology were called in to investigate and, after taking samples from bats in the mine, identified several new coronaviruses. Yet they were not forthcoming with their information.
On May 24, CNN admitted that there may be more to the Wuhan lab than initially believed. They published an update: New information on Wuhan researchers’ illness furthers debate on pandemic origins
But Cilizza is still standing by his earlier claims it isn’t.
He wrote an opinion piece on why Dr. Fauci was ‘hedging’ on the subject, and said just because Fauci said he was no longer ‘convinced’ of the origins, it didn’t mean he thought it came from a lab.
New York Times
When any Trump-supporting lawmakers said that the Wuhan lab theory merited further exploration, the New York Times was quick to dismiss their claim.
In the first month of the pandemic they seized on questions raised by Tom Cotton, the Republican senator for Arkansas.
‘We don’t have evidence that this disease originated there,’ Cotton said.
‘But because of China’s duplicity and dishonesty from the beginning, we need to at least ask the question to see what the evidence says, and China right now is not giving evidence on that question at all.’
His words, on February 17, 2020, would prove prescient – yet the New York Times headlined its coverage: Senator Tom Cotton Repeats Fringe Theory of Coronavirus Origins.
By April 30, 2020, the paper was describing the efforts from the Trump administration to get to the bottom of the virus’ origins as a political witch hunt.
FEBRUARY 2020: The New York Times was initially adamant (left) that the Wuhan lab leak theory was a nonsense invented by Trump, but by 2021 was accepting that opinions varied (right)
APRIL 2020: Another NYT report which said Trump officials had been pushing spies to find evidence behind the theory
‘Senior Trump administration officials have pushed American spy agencies to hunt for evidence to support an unsubstantiated theory that a government laboratory in Wuhan, China, was the origin of the coronavirus outbreak, according to current and former American officials,’ the paper reported.
‘The effort comes as President Trump escalates a public campaign to blame China for the pandemic.’
The story was headlined: Trump Officials Are Said to Press Spies to Link Virus and Wuhan Labs
Yet this month two former science reporters at the paper – Nicholas Wade, who retired in 2012, and Donald McNeil, who left earlier this year amid a row about his language while guiding a tour of Peru – both said they now felt it was possible, indeed perhaps likely, that the virus came from a lab.
‘In early spring 2020, I reported an article for The New York Times on which I put the tentative headline: ‘New Coronavirus Is ‘Clearly Not a Lab Leak,’ Scientists Say,” McNeil wrote on Medium.
‘It never ran.’
He said that the paper was sharply divided over whether to believe the Trump officials saying it was a lab leak, or the scientists saying it wasn’t.
‘We still do not know the source of this awful pandemic. We may never know,’ he wrote.
‘But the argument that it could have leaked out of the Wuhan Institute of Virology or a sister lab in Wuhan has become considerably stronger than it was a year ago, when the screaming was so loud that it drowned out serious discussion.
McNeil, who left The New York Times earlier this year, said that China’s ‘lack of candor’ was ‘disturbing’. McNeil was fired by the Times after it emerged he’d used the N-word during a conversation with students on a NYT-run trip. He published an article on May 17 about the subject. He said he’d been told ‘overwhelmingly’ by scientists that it did not come from a lab
MAY 2021: Now the Times is repeating scientists’ calls for an open mind on the theory
‘And China’s lack of candor is disturbing.’
Wade came to the same conclusion.
‘Neither the natural emergence nor the lab escape hypothesis can yet be ruled out. There is still no direct evidence for either. So no definitive conclusion can be reached,’ he wrote.
‘That said, the available evidence leans more strongly in one direction than the other. Readers will form their own opinion.
‘But it seems to me that proponents of lab escape can explain all the available facts about SARS2 considerably more easily than can those who favor natural emergence.’
Reporters for an article published on April 30, 2020, provided a nuanced and in-depth analysis of the Wuhan laboratory’s work, and emphasized the risks involved.
Yet their headline read: Chinese lab conducted extensive research on deadly bat viruses, but there is no evidence of accidental release.
The following day, the dismissive tone continued: Was the new coronavirus accidentally released from a Wuhan lab? It’s doubtful.
In May 2020 The Washington Post said it was ‘doubtful’ that the virus came from a lab in a story from its Fact Checker section
Now the Washington Post is urging WHO to carry out an investigation into what happened to determine if it did come from a lab
MAY 2021: Journalist Aaron Blake wrote that it is ‘vexing’ as a subject. He said: ‘It has become evident that some corners of the mainstream media overcorrected when it came to one particular theory from Trump and his allies: that the coronavirus emanated from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, rather than naturally. It’s also true that many criticisms of the coverage are overwrought and that Trump’s and his allies’ claims invited and deserved skepticism.’
By May 24 this year, the paper was very close to admitting that they had been blinkered.
‘Given everything we know about how Trump handled such things, caution and skepticism were invited,’ wrote Aaron Blake, a senior political reporter at the paper.
‘That (very much warranted) caution and skepticism spilled over into some oversimplification, particularly when it came to summarizing the often more circumspect reporting.’
He admitted: ‘We might never truly know the truth.’
As concern was mounting about the virus in the spring of 2020, The Huffington Post was rapidly ridiculing all question of its origins.
‘A Toxic ‘Infodemic’: The Viral Spread Of COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories,’ they headlined a story on April 7, 2020.
APRIL 2020: The Huffington Post was initially skeptical (left) about alternative ideas surrounding COVID and called it an ‘infodemic’
MAY 2021: Now, like every other outlet, Huff Po is broadening its reporting on the theory
Yet a little over a year later, on May 24 of this year, the site followed up on the Wall Street Journal’s report into the hospitalization of the Wuhan lab workers in 2019, and the issues that this raised.
‘Wuhan Researchers Were Hospitalized With COVID-19 Symptoms Pre-Pandemic: Reports,’ they wrote.
On April 23, 2020, NPR stated: ‘Virus researchers say there is virtually no chance that the new coronavirus was released as result of a laboratory accident in China or anywhere else.’
The radio news network was determined to prove that there was no credibility to the Wuhan lab leak theory, and produced a series of ‘explainers’ insisting that COVID-19 was transmitted from animals to humans.
‘Where Did This Coronavirus Originate? Virus Hunters Find Genetic Clues In Bats,’ they reported on April 15, 2020.
Yet a little over a year later, NPR was following the WHO’s report – and its worrying conclusions – with interest.
‘Theory That COVID Came From A Chinese Lab Takes On New Life In Wake Of WHO Report,’ they concluded.
APRIL 2020: NPR was initially dismissive of suggestions that the virus leaked from a lab (left), but by May 2021 was covering the increasing speculation
MARCH 2021: After a WHO report said the theory was gathering more steam, the headlines became more open minded
On March 31, they reported: Calls For An Open Investigation Into The Possibility COVID-19 Leaked From A Lab.
Among those watching the evolving news lines was Mike Pompeo, Trump’s secretary of state.
‘Over a year ago, I told @MarthaRaddatz that the Wuhan Virus most likely came from a lab leak,’ he tweeted on May 20.
‘She stopped just short of offering me a tin hat. The CCP said I was an enemy of mankind,’ he said, referring to the Chinese Communist Party’And now? Well, now, the Left wing media is scrambling to get on the side of the truth.’