Tucker Carlson Cries Censorship After His COVID-19 Posts Flagged as Misinformation by Facebook, Instagram

Tucker Carlson - COVID misinformation -
via Facebook

Tucker Carlson hit back at Facebook, complaining that the social giant “censored” a clip from his Fox News program on Facebook and Instagram that promoted a COVID-19 conspiracy theory.

On Wednesday, Facebook and Instagram placed warning labels over video posts from “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that said, “This post repeats information about COVID-19 that has been reviewed by independent fact-checkers.”

Carlson, on his Fox show Wednesday night, griped about Facebook’s action to flag his posts as misinformation. In a clip he posted on social media, he said, “Facebook has censored our video with a Chinese whistleblower. Big tech wants control over the facts you see.”

In the video Carlson’s show posted on Facebook and Instagram Tuesday night, the Fox News host interviewed discredited Chinese virologist Dr. Li-Meng Yan, who told Carlson, “This virus, COVID-19 SARS-CoV-2 virus, actually is not from nature. It is a man-made virus created in the lab.” The posts were captioned, “Chinese whistle-blower to Tucker: This virus was made in a lab & I can prove it.”

On the warning labels placed over Carlson’s posts on Facebook and Instagram, the company links to three fact-checking articles on the issue: two from FactCheck.org — “Baseless Conspiracy Theories Claim New Coronavirus Was Bioengineered” and “Social Media Posts Spread Bogus Coronavirus Conspiracy Theory”— and one from USA Today, “Coronavirus not man-made or engineered but its origin remains unclear.” The consensus among pandemic experts is that COVID-19 appears to have originated as a bat-borne virus in China before it mutated and jumped to humans.

Meanwhile, Twitter has not taken any action against the same video Carlson linked to in a tweet posted Tuesday. According to a spokesperson, the company determined that the post didn’t violate Twitter policies on COVID misinformation.

On YouTube, where the video has more than 1.9 million views so far, the platform appended a notice underneath that reads, “Get the latest information from the CDC about COVID-19” with a link to the CDC’s website. YouTube didn’t explicitly call out Carlson for spreading false information.

A study co-authored by Dr. Yan — repeating the assertion that COVID-19 came from a Chinese lab — was published this week by two nonprofit groups that have ties to Steve Bannon, the Daily Beast reported. Bannon, a former senior Trump adviser and Breitbart News exec, was charged with fraud last month by federal prosecutors for his role in a crowdfunding scheme to raise money for building out a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.