Facebook: People Will Now Be Allowed To Discuss Whether Covid-19 Originated In Wuhan Lab

Read that headline a couple times. There was a time when such a headline would only appear on The Onion, but it is true. Facebook has long banned anyone who discussed the evidence that a worldwide pandemic killing millions and destroying the global economy may have been released from a government lab in Wuhan, China. Facebook would not allow the theory to be discussed as “debunked” despite widespread criticism that Facebook was, again, engaging in corporate censorship. The false claim that this theory was “debunked” was pushed by various media platforms as part of the criticism of then President Donald Trump and his Administration. Now however Dr. Anthony Fauci and others have acknowledged that there is a basis to suspect the lab as the origin of the outbreak. So now Facebook will allow you to talk about it.

Since February, Facebook has been banning posts claiming the virus was man-made or manufactured “following consultations with leading health organizations, including the World Health Organization” who had “debunked” the claim.  It was ridiculed at the time as entirely divorced from actual science. While the theory was not proven, it was never disproven. Many (including Fauci) maintain that natural evolution is still the most likely explanation but the lab could be the original source for the outbreak.

Now, Facebook has declared

“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.”

Putting aside the lack of a basis for the earlier ban, the statement reflects that assumption that, of course, Facebook should be the arbiter of what can be discussed by users. I previously wrote about how Facebook is running a campaign to convince young people to accept “content modification” as part of their evolution with technology.  This reframing of expectations has been fostered by Democratic leaders who have pushed social media companies for more censorship to protect people from errant or damaging ideas. Last year, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) warned Big Tech CEOs that he and his colleagues were watching to be sure there was no “backsliding or retrenching” from “robust content modification.”

This censorship craze is not just limited to the lab story or to Facebook. Indeed, last year, House Democrats Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney of California wrote a letter to cable carriers like AT&T to ask why they are still allowing people to watch Fox News. The members stressed that “not all TV news sources are the same” and called these companies to account for their role in allowing such “dissemination.” Thus, it is not just specific stories but whole sources of information that need to be banned to protect innocent, gullible citizens.

In all of these exchanges, the underlying portrayal of the public is the same: they are unwitting dupes who must be protected from harmful thoughts or influences. It is safer for them to have these members and these companies determine what they can hear or discuss.

Facebook’s decision to allow people to discuss the theory follows the company’s Oversight Board upholding a ban on any postings of Trump, a move that even figures like Germany Angela Merkel and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) have criticized as a danger to free speech.  Even Trump’s voice has been banned by Facebook. Trump remains too harmful for Facebook users to hear . . . at least until the company decides that they are ready for such exposure.

Facebook’s announcement is meant to assure that it will not abuse its power as the overseer of any political or social discussions.  It is similar to the benign dictator pitch where a government argues that, despite authoritarian powers, it uses such powers in a benign and tolerant fashion. There is an alternative. It is called free speech.

I have long described myself as an Internet Originalist. There was a time when the assumption was that the Internet is a forum for largely unimpeded free speech. This was particularly the case with social media. Users of Twitter and Facebook state a desire to hear the views of other individuals or groups. Yet, companies like Facebook started to assert the right to monitor those exchanges and decide if it approves of the views or representations being made. What began with censoring out violent threats has morphed into censoring “misinformation” or “harmful” thoughts on subjects ranging from climate change to gender issues to Covid-19 to election fraud.

It is a familiar pattern as speech controls become insatiable and expansive. We would never tolerate a company like Verizon intervening in telephone conversations to correct or cut off arguments. However, Facebook now regularly censors views and is running a glitzy television campaign to get people to love the company for its paternalistic limits on what they can see and discuss.

I do not know if the virus escaped from the Wuhan lab. However, it is less likely that we will find an answer with companies actively preventing people from sharing information and views on the subject. Yet, it is probably more important to understand how a little free speech escapes from Facebook. The fact is that it did not escape. It was a controlled release. Facebook and other companies have turned a rolling ocean of free speech on the Internet into a swimming pool of censored and managed expression. Worse yet, according to its ubiquitous commercials, Facebook wants us to love it for the loss of free speech.  So rejoice, Facebook and its censorship board will now allow us to discuss whether China is responsible for the release of this virus . . . for now.


A shorter version of this column ran on Fox.com

83 thoughts on “Facebook: People Will Now Be Allowed To Discuss Whether Covid-19 Originated In Wuhan Lab”

  1. I think far too many people, including many “conservatives,” fail to recognize the revolutionary zeal of the people they are opposing. We are into something much more dangerous than just the wacky excesses of a few people. Every day brings new craziness and new demands that the craziness be accepted or else. In their view, if the First Amendment is “hurtful,” then it must be ignored or overcome.

    1. “In their view, if the First Amendment is “hurtful,” then it must be ignored or overcome.”
      True, but more; all law is subject to their whims and politics. They are dangerous, disruptive people set on destroying our society.

  2. Is it a coincidence that Zuck’s pale, emotionless, android face is replacing Big Brother’s on articles about our plague of totalitarianism?

  3. It is striking how shameless these people are. A year of suppressing or ridiculing a plausible, even likely, explanation for the origin of the plague and they spin with the winds of politics without a blush for their obvious dishonesty.

    They do not deserve trust. They have earned mistrust and suspicion.

  4. The commissars of tolerance have spoken again and the lumpen proletariat are allowed to discuss a once forbidden subject. Amazing how many people think this is a great idea.


  5. Most of us have heard the “Frog in Boiling Water” comparison. If you simply change things incrementally, the Frog doesn’t realize it’s being cooked for dinner. The 21st Century is really outrageous if you add it all up. We have surrendered our constitutional rights without even a whimper.

    We allow our paper mail to be photographed, our old emails read. We allow the government to perform online “keyword” searches that violates the 4th Amendment. We allow our children’s personal information (including location information, search history, etc) to be scooped up by their school supplied laptops (where the school cuts deals with computer companies bypassing parents altogether).

    Not even government agencies trust this technology. America’s most secret agencies uses manual typewriters and human couriers. These agencies have the most sophisticated security software on the planet.

    Why on Earth would we trust Facebook or any other company to be our nanny-state censoring what we are allowed to see or write? When Americans just roll over and surrender rights voluntarily, those rights are gone forever. Bureaucrats love to assume authority they don’t have. This is the lesson our next generation of children are learning from us.

    Anyone that posts anything online knows the saying “if you have done nothing wrong and have nothing hide, you have nothing to worry about”. We have 20 years of hard documented evidence that legal peaceful First Amendment activity is indeed punished by censors and bureaucrats. [source: “Why Privacy Matters” on Ted Talk).

    Only our generation of adults can fix this, our children are heavily indoctrinated to obey illegal, unconstitutional and arbitrary authority by officials that swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution. These officials sometimes include public school teachers and college professors.

    1. Train has left the station and we’re just standing on the tracks watching it barrel toward us.

  6. “Facebook: People Will Now Be Allowed To Discuss Whether Covid-19 Originated In Wuhan Lab”

    – Professor Turley

    Americans grasp that the fact of the matter is that Facebook is private property and that Congress is provided no power by the Constitution to “…claim [or] exercise dominion…” over private property. Americans know that free market competition is the constitutional method of effecting conditions and modifying the actions and behaviors of Facebook.

    Congress has no power to impose unconstitutional affirmative action matriculation, affirmative action hiring, quotas, minimum wage, rent control, unfair Fair Housing laws, discriminatory Non-Discrimination laws, etc., on owners of private property.

    The Constitution grants owners power over Congress on issues related to private property.

    Equally important is the fact that the right to private property is not qualified by the Constitution and is, therefore, absolute, and that the judicial branch has no power to legislate, to modify legislation or to modify legislation through “interpretation,” understanding that the judicial branch is the sole and singular, historical and enduring American failure.

    “[Private property is] that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual.”

    – James Madison

  7. “ Dr. Anthony Fauci and others have acknowledged that there is a basis to suspect the lab as the origin of the outbreak”. This is a false statement from JT. Fauci has just said that it is no known where the virus originated and that he believes that it is unlikely to originated from the lab, however supports an investigation into the origin but acknowledged that since China won’t cooperate we may never known the true origin.

    1. Howard, for your reading pleasure https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/anthony-fauci-no-scientific-evidence-the-coronavirus-was-made-in-a-chinese-lab-cvd. That was his story then but this is his story now. https://thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/prevention-cures/555057-fauci-bombshell-not-convinced-covid-19-developed. It turns out that Fauci recommended funding for the Wuhan lab. The point is that Facebook would not let us hear or see anything about COVID possibly being from a lab because the proclaimed that this theory had been completely debunked. The MSM Informed us that the lab creation of the virus was a Trump conspiracy theory because Fauci said that it came from nature. Now Fauci says “Oh wait”, their is a possibility that it came from the lab.

  8. May 27, 2021

    “Sixteen months ago, January 20, 2020 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the Communist People’s Republic of China.

    “The United States was at peace with that nation and, wittingly or unwittingly, through criminal dereliction and negligence and attempting to obtain the cloak of plausible deniability, the People’s Republic of China released on the world the COVID-19 biological weapon.

    “China has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the World. The Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy has directed his entire Cabinet that all measures be taken for the defense of the United States.

    “With confidence in the United States Center For Disease Control and with the unbounding determination of the American people the Untied States will gain the inevitable triumph so help us God.

    “Congress must declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by China on January 20, 2020, a state of war has existed between the United States and China.”

    – President Donald J. Trump

  9. F*** Facebook. Anybody who is still on it deserves what the progressives dish out at you. Your life will go on without it.

    1. Skipping FB is easy. But Democrat Big Tech also controls Google and its algorithms, Youtube to share videos, and the other social media sites where people would discuss political dissent. Then there is who controls the servers for alternative social media. Amazon cutting off Parler is an example.

      Democrats control most of the print, digital, and tv news media.

      Democrats control the education system from K-grad school.

      Democrats control Hollywood.

      Everything a young American learns in school, reads online, discusses on social media, watches on a video, or sees on the silver screen or tv likely was filtered through Democrats. Democrats are watching what you do, reading what you write, taking note of what books you buy, taking certain books off the shelves, grading you in school, making almost all the movies and tv shows you watch, and their pressuring your workplace to conform or be canceled.

      This is what a hegemony does.

      1. @Karen S

        While the “great” William F. Buckley and mainstream “conservatives” were concerned with winning the next election cycle, the left was gradually moving through the institutions and now control them as pointed out in your post.

        Conservatism Inc. “conserves” very little. Time to try something else.


        1. Antonio – conservatives turned the other cheek, and ignored the Leftist propaganda that somehow small government and strong individual rights were Fascist. This should have been laughably easy to defend against. But pushback was weak and ineffectual.

          Conservatives sat there and complained, but took no action, as the education system from kindergarten to grad school gradually became Democrat madrassas.

          Conservatives were ineffective at confronting the problem of Democrats taking over the government alphabet soup, until it got to the point that the IRS discriminated against conservative organizations.

          They were in a rush to show they weren’t racist, phobes, or whatever ad hominem was strewn about, compromising, rather than confronting the propaganda firmly.

          The propaganda has become so entrenched in the mainstream that the youngest generation doesn’t question it.

          The right needs to use the courage of its convictions, find a backbone, and get effective at getting their message out to people brainwashed by the media, the public education system, Hollywood movies, and all the other messaging that streams by every day.

    2. Not exactly true. Unfortunately, we have allowed it and Instagram to become such an important conduit for marketing. As my civil procedures prof used to say, “you can’t rebar the cat.”

  10. Big Tech controls a large proportion of communication and information. Its algorithms determine what information you can find online, and in what order. It controls social media and online video sharing – Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

    The unholy alliance of Big Tech, with the Democrat Party, has created a one party propaganda machine that authoritarian states would salivate over. It’s a form of Big Government, but without the socialization of the communications industry. They aligned willingly. They censored willingly. They harass, silence, and try to impoverish political dissidents willingly. Some people make their living on the internet, so deplatforming or demonetizing them is an attempt to drive them out of business, just like an autocrat throwing a shop keeper out of his store.

    If these companies are going to listen in, monitor, and cut the line of communication of their customers, then they obviously should not continue to enjoy the lawsuit protection as if they are a phone company. Telephone operators don’t listen in to our conversations, and hang up our calls if they don’t like what we tell our mother or our friend over the phone.

    Competing with Democrat Big Tech has many obstacles. If you don’t like censorship, you’d not only have to come up with your own algorithms, design your own social media platform, or create new technology, but then you’d have to fight against the multi-billion-dollar Big Tech alliance. They fight the rise of competitors, such as when Amazon and Apple shut down Parler.

    We need more Parler, and Locals.com. If there is a new, non discriminatory social media platform you know of, post it on the blog to share with others. We need the government to strip Section 230 protection for the Democrat hegemony in Big Tech because, clearly, they are not keeping their own personal politics out of the workplace and their platforms. What are the chances that a Democrat Congress and White House will protect conservatives from being censored by Democrat Big Tech?

  11. The 9th Amendment largely flies under the radar but it was designed to limit and restrain government authority – you don’t need a permission slip from the government to exercise your constitutional rights. Unless there is a constitutional-amendment removing a right and “constitutional” laws (statutes) outlawing a certain activity, nobody needs permission from anyone.

    Although Facebook is private, if acting as an agent of the state, they become a governing-entity bound by the U.S. Constitution (a wartime governing charter). Congress or a president can’t force Facebook to censor anyone.

    1. Exactly. FB is the de facto Department of Propaganda and Censorship for Dem administration. Goebbels would have so loved social media.

  12. Let us consider “consensus” among scientists. That is not an end point — a dictum. Advances in science take place by the experiments which disprove the current consensus. It is the counterarguments, the nay-sayers who are practicing science. The very voices that must be heard and argued with.
    The prior probability of hypotheses which violate the consensus is very low and so strong evidence is required to overcome the low prior. The hypothesis that gain-of-function research created a bio-weapon-grade virus and it was so good it escaped confinement must have strong evidence backing the claim.
    But certainly disallowing any disagreement with a scientific consensus is exactly anti-science.

  13. “Facebook: people will now be allowed”, if you’re an American that part of the headline should frighten and outrage the hades out of you. As Americans we are now being told what we are “allowed” to discuss. The blood of American men and women saturating the soil around the globe to allow people to freely speak. Now Americans are told by a toad what they are “allowed” to discuss, frightening!

  14. Here’s an argument for a constitutional attorney: as long as you give credit to the publisher, could you post [verbatim] an article published by The Washington Post or Wall Street Journal? A credible newspaper editor has already fact-checked the facts and evidence. Newspapers are not protected under Section 230 (like Facebook), so the newspaper has accepted legal risk. In this legal scenario, it’s a true reporting but not a sunny and bright story.

    1. The Washington Post and The New York times have terrible fact checkers. They are wrong more than they are right. Typical of Progressives.

      1. The point is, unless Facebook is acting an agent-of-the-state, censoring for any government (including foreign governments), it makes no sense increasing legal risk to Facebook when they are already protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Something is fishy here! No corporation removes legal protection and subjects themselves to lawsuits.

  15. Censorship is always wrong but wouldn’t a less drastic solution be to simply ban a “public global share” but you could share with your actual circle of FB friends (which can ban you if they want to)? Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects Facebook from lawsuits and by limiting the audience size it poses no great threat to anyone.

  16. If you want to read or hear more than a sterilized narrative shaped to mold your mind, leave Facebook and the like and stick with blogs like this one. Big Tech is corrosive to discourse and to politics and to society. It is the ‘Le Pere Duchesne’ of our age.

  17. Not sure but Zuckerberg’s vision seems to modeled on the movie “Stepford Wives”. You are free to speak only in a sunny bright way, not allowed to actually debate reality – which is not always sunny and bright. As for Facebook “friends” – try inviting one of these “friends” to lunch or an in-person meeting, where you have freedom of speech to discuss non-sunny topics. You’ll find out less than 10% are your real friends.

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