Claiming, or even attempting to debate the possibility that coronavirus is man-made and originates from a lab in China, was a costly mistake made by a huge number of creators and social media users.
Their content was banned, labeled as conspiracy, and “repeat offenders” on platforms like YouTube would even get banned. From Facebook to Google, and every other Big Tech social media site in between, the explanation was that the only allowed information related to the Covid pandemic was that based on the opinions of “authoritative sources.”
And one of the most powerful among these “Covid truth arbiters” was the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO), that maintained for a long time that the virus – the response to which brought about nothing short of a global catastrophe – had occurred naturally.
Early in the pandemic, in April 2020, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki spelled it out in no uncertain terms: the platform would staunchly follow WHO recommendations and ban all content contradicting it.
Now, however, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is reported to be telling European officials in private that he believes coronavirus originated in the Wuhan, China lab.
The Daily Mail is reporting about this citing a senior government source, who also said that the WHO head believes the virus escaped the lab in a “catastrophic accident.”
Speaking publicly earlier this month, Tedros said that “all hypotheses must remain on the table” and that, “we do not yet have the answers as to where it came from or how it entered the human population.”
When suspicions about the origin of the virus first occurred, though, China strongly protested any possibility it was anything but natural, and the WHO toed that line.
And since giant Western social media platforms toed WHO’s line – users and creators who dared to express doubt or make claims that the virus was man-made were labeled as “conspiracy theorists” – precisely the terminology Beijing itself used.
This “circle” was broken a year ago when the US announced a U-turn on this policy, saying that its intelligence agencies were investigating the “lab leak theory.” Facebook then promptly lifted the ban on this being mentioned or discussed.
Whether this failure to produce balanced and freedom of speech-friendly moderation policies, instead of adopting “absolute truths” to implement heavy censorship will inform Big Tech to “do better” going forward, is anybody’s guess.