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Facebook fact-checker for COVID-19 content cited major Wuhan lab funder

Scientist has been at center of controversy and speculation for the past year.

Updated: June 2, 2021 - 10:19am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

A Facebook fact-checker, as part of the social media platform's efforts to weed out misinformation about the origins of the coronavirus, cited as an expert a major funder of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the lab over which speculation has swirled for the past year that the virus potentially originated. 

Science Feedback, one of Facebook's chief fact-checking platforms, in a February 2020 "fact check" cited Peter Daszak as an expert source in its ruling that there was "no evidence" to support the theory that the COVID-19 virus leaked from the lab.

Daszak has become well known as a major bankroller of coronavirus experiments at the Wuhan lab in the years leading up to the pandemic. At least one major virologist has claimed that Daszak's nonprofit, EcoHealth Alliance, helped fund lab experiments that were then used in risky "gain-of-function" virology research. 

Facebook over the past year aggressively censored various journalistic inquiries into COVID-19, including most prominently allegations that the SARS-Cov-2 virus may have arisen in the Chinese lab.

Last month, amid heightened scrutiny and increasing scientific inquiry into the theory, the social media company said it would no longer censor such articles.

Science Feedback cited remarks and statements from Daszak in which the scientist dismissed the lab-leak hypothesis as part of "rumors and conspiracy theories" surrounding COVID's origin. 

“We have a choice whether to stand up and support colleagues who are being attacked and threatened daily by conspiracy theorists or to just turn a blind eye," Daszak said at the time. 

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