San Francisco: Facebook will no longer remove claims posted on its platforms that Covid-19 is either man-made or lab manufactured, as US President Joe Biden has called upon intelligence agencies to probe the so-called "lab-leak hypothesis".
The social network had earlier banned such claims as part of its Covid-19 misinformation policy.
A Facebook spokesperson said on Wednesday that the origin language had been removed from that policy, due to the renewed debate about the virus' origin.
"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," the spokesperson told Politico.
"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 spokesperson added.
Biden said in a statement that on Covid-19 origin, he has now "asked the Intelligence Community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion, and to report back to me in 90 days".
"As part of that report, I have asked for areas of further inquiry that may be required, including specific questions for China. I have also asked that this effort include work by our National Labs and other agencies of our government to augment the Intelligence Community's efforts," the US President added.
The intelligence community believes that two scenarios are possible: The virus started spreading when a human contacted an infected animal, or that the spread was the result of a lab accident.
The US, Biden said, 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.
FB To Push Down All Posts From Users Who Share Misinformation
Facebook has announced to push down all posts by users who repeatedly share misinformation and fake content across its platforms, as it expands its fact-checking programme to individuals from Pages, Groups, Instagram accounts and domains.
The social network said in a statement late on Wednesday that the new rule applies on false or misleading content about Covid-19 and vaccines, climate change, elections or other topics, so that fewer people see misinformation on its family apps.
"Starting today, we will reduce the distribution of all posts in News Feed from an individual's Facebook account if they repeatedly share content that has been rated by one of our fact-checking partners. We already reduce a single post's reach in News Feed if it has been debunked," Facebook informed.
The company currently notifies people when they share content that a fact-checker later rates.
Now, Facebook has redesigned these notifications to make it easier to understand when this happens.
The notification includes the fact-checker's article debunking the claim as well as a prompt to share the article with their followers.
"It also includes a notice that people who repeatedly share false information may have their posts moved lower in News Feed so other people are less likely to see them," the social network said.
The company launched its fact-checking programme in late 2016.
"We've taken stronger action against Pages, Groups, Instagram accounts and domains sharing misinformation and now, we're expanding some of these efforts to include penalties for individual Facebook accounts too," the company noted.