Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s penchant for sharing misinformation about the novel coronavirus earned him a slap on the wrist from Facebook and Instagram on Wednesday ― and he didn’t take the news well.
A video of Carlson’s interview with a Chinese virologist, Li-Meng Yan, was published on his social media accounts Tuesday with the caption “Chinese whistle-blower to Tucker: This virus was made in a lab & I can prove it.”
Scientists who have studied the virus’ genetics have overwhelmingly concluded that it originated in wildlife and was not engineered in a lab. Twitter did not take action against Carlson’s post but it did suspend Yan’s account. Facebook and Instagram hid the content behind a “false information” label. Viewers were advised that the video “repeats information about COVID-19 that independent fact-checkers say is false.” The segment can still be viewed after clicking past the warning.
In response, Carlson went on a lengthy tirade Wednesday night about how he had been “censored” by Facebook. He dedicated more than 15 minutes of his program to defending Yan’s claims and bashing the social media giant for supposedly bringing an end to free speech.
“Facebook still doesn’t want you to know that so Facebook suppressed the video, presumably on behalf of the Chinese government,” Tucker claimed.
He also said the warning labels made it harder for people to watch the segment and declared the fact-checks invalid because they were written earlier this year, long before Yan appeared on Fox News.
Claims that coronavirus was man-made or bioengineered were debunked months ago. The platforms cited three fact-checks, two from Factcheck.org, here and here, and another from USA Today. All deemed the claim false.
Carlson’s account also updated the captions of the posts to say that Facebook was trying to censor him.
Yan is the co-author of a new study that purports to show that SARS-CoV-2 was engineered in a lab. It was published by two nonprofit groups which The Daily Beast reported were linked to Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former top adviser who is currently facing criminal charges for fraud. The study’s findings go against the majority of other research on the subject, which had largely determined that the virus came from natural origins.
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