Facebook was asked to 'censor' COVID misinfo that ended up true: CEO
Mark Zuckerberg acknowledges that during the Covid-19 outbreak, the social media network deleted millions of posts.
According to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, Facebook was asked by the scientific "establishment" to remove several posts about Covid-19 that afterward turned out to be "debatable or true."
In a podcast discussion with the interviewer Lex Fridman that was made public on Thursday, Zuckerberg admitted that the monitoring of Facebook's efforts to delete untruths is "really tricky".
"Just take some of the stuff around Covid earlier on in the pandemic," Zuckerberg explained, "Where there were real health implications but there hadn’t been time to fully vet a bunch of the scientific assumptions."
"Unfortunately, I think a lot of the establishment on that kind-of waffled on a bunch of facts," he continued.
In an interview for CBS in August 2021, at the height of the pandemic, Zuckerberg claimed that Facebook removes anything that it deems to be "harmful" because it is against corporate policy. He added that Facebook had at the time taken down roughly 18 million postings that it had determined had spread false information about the virus.
In the summer of 2021, US President Joe Biden was one of many who criticized Facebook, saying that it served as a platform for the dissemination of "bad information" on social media, which he claimed was "killing people".
In July of that same year, Biden remarked that his hope "is that Facebook, instead of taking it personally that somehow I’m saying Facebook is killing people, that they would do something about the misinformation."
This week, however, in an interview with Fridman, Zuckerberg said the "establishment" had encouraged his platform to support a variety of Covid-19-related claims but had also "asked for a bunch of things to be censored that, in retrospect, ended up being more debatable or true."
Attorneys General from Missouri and Louisiana claimed in 2022 that Facebook was one of several Big Tech firms that collaborated with Dr. Anthony Fauci, US infectious diseases chief, to "discredit and suppress" online discussions about whether the Covid-19 virus originated from a lab leak in Wuhan, China.
In February, the US Department of Energy came to the "low confidence" conclusion that the virus most likely came from a China lab leak, an assertion Beijing has dubbed "baseless".