When former US President Trump spoke about it, the Wuhan lab leak explanation of the origin of coronavirus was dismissed by mainstream media and then heavily censored by major social media platforms as a fringe conspiracy theory, and those talking about is as spreaders of misinformation.
But now that President Biden has allowed for the possibility that the virus originated in the Chinese lab and ordered his intelligence agencies to investigate and report, both Big Tech and traditional media supportive of him are starting to make a U-turn on the subject.
Facebook was swift to get on board when the current administration changed its tune, and in a surprising reversal of a rigorous censorship policy around the topic decided that its users are now allowed to post content about the virus being engineered or man-made instead of occurring in nature.
All eyes are now on other big social media players, like Twitter, to see how quickly they will follow suit. For now at least, either out of conviction or to save face by delaying the decision, Jack Dorsey’s company hasn’t lifted its ban on mentioning the Wuhan lab leak theory – but it hasn’t ruled it out, either.
Late on Friday, a spokesperson evaded providing a clear answer when asked directly whether or not Twitter would continue to consider the Wuhan theory to be a false or misleading claim, like it has done so far.
Instead of answering the question, the spokesperson said only that Twitter’s general policy is to “take action,” i.e., censor posts that it sees as false and posing “a significant risk of harm.”
The spokesperson added that Twitter also removes content that is suggesting that the devastating global epidemic was influenced by what it calls “malicious or powerful forces.” This rule appears vague enough already, but once again, there was no clarification whether the lab leak theory is prohibited under that guideline.
Meanwhile, all those whose voices were stifled online, in the media, and in scientific circles for exploring the idea that the virus may be artificial now feel vindicated but upset that they were censored in the first place.
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