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PJ Media Demands an Apology for the Damage Facebook's Dishonest Partisan Fact-Checkers Have Done to Our Reputation

(Facebook Newsroom screenshot)

Suddenly, out of nowhere, left-wing media outlets are falling all over themselves to report evidence pointing to the COVID lab-leak theory—formerly called the lab-leak “conspiracy.” A few months ago it was the stuff of the tinfoil-hat brigade. The science was settled! The SARS-CoV-2 virus came from bats and definitely not from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Thus saith the fact-checkers, who are never wrong about anything and who have the final say about which information you’re allowed to see on social media! Defy them at your own peril!

Let’s review:

Science Feedback, official fact-checkers for Facebook, announced in a February 2020 headline that “Scientific evidence indicates virus that causes COVID-19 infection is of natural origin, not the result of human engineering:

The article claimed there was no evidence that biosecurity failures at the Wuhan lab precipitated the pandemic. Facebook began labeling all articles that suggested otherwise as “Incorrect,” “Misleading,” and “Unsupported”:

(Science Feedback screenshot)
(Science Feedback screenshot)

Notice how quick they were to come to the defense of the Wuhan lab, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Communist Chinese government?

The fact-checkers, those infallible arbiters of truth, accused the New York Post, the Daily Wire, and others media outlets of trafficking in “unfounded speculation” that the virus originated in a lab. (While PJ Media did not get slapped with a fact check on the Wuhan lab story—there have been plenty others in the same vein—our sister site RedState got caught up in one when they reported on the exiled Chinese virologist who claimed the virus escaped from a lab, as did Townhall.)

“These rumors and conspiracy theories have real consequences, including threats of violence that have occurred to our colleagues in China,” declared Science Feedback’s source, Peter Daszak, an epidemiologist and president of the EcoHealth Alliance.

Did we mention that Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance partners with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV)? It’s true:

EcoHealth Alliance and Daszak have been working with Shi Zhengli, a virologist at the WIV, for more than 15 years. Since 2014, an NIH grant has funded EcoHealth’s research in China, which involves collecting faeces and other samples from bats, and blood samples from people at risk of infection from bat-origin viruses. Scientific studies suggest that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus most likely originated in bats, and research on the topic could be crucial to identifying other viruses that might cause future pandemics.

No conflict of interest there, right? Nothing to see here.

Related: The Truth Behind the Partisan Machinations of Facebook’s ‘Fact-Checkers’

In March 2020 Science Feedback added an update to the fact check:

After our evaluation was published, the Daily Wire revised the article’s original headline from “Report Suggests That Details Point To Coronavirus Coming From Chinese Lab” to “Report Promotes Debunked Theory That Coronavirus Comes From Chinese Lab”, and issued a correction notice, stating that: “This theory has been largely rejected by the global scientific community. The title has been revised to reflect that fact, and the article now includes a statement from a group of public health scientists condemning ‘conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.’” See the archive of the corrected article.

As a result of Science Feedback’s extortion—nice little Facebook page you’ve got there. It would be a shame if anything happened to it—the Daily Wire ended up revising its story to say that the lab-leak theory had been rejected by the scientific community and adding a statement from “public health scientists” who disagreed with the conclusion.

George Orwell is screaming “DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU” from the grave right now. Science Feedback and other fact-checkers essentially serve as a giant memory hole, hoovering up verboten opinions and disappearing them from social media.

The most recent update to the fact check was a doubling-down in March 2020:

An analysis published in Nature Medicine on 17 Mar. 2020 further supports our conclusion that the virus causing COVID-19 has a natural origin, stating that: “Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.” This publication has been added to our References.

See? We told ya!

Note what it doesn’t say. It does not say that researchers had ruled out an accidental leak from the Wuhan lab, merely that it was not a “laboratory construction,” nor was it “purposefully” manipulated.

If we click over to that article in Nature we learn that “It is improbable that SARS-CoV-2 emerged through laboratory manipulation of a related SARS-CoV-like coronavirus.” [Emphasis added]. Again, we see a focus on deliberate manipulation of the virus rather than an accidental leak.

There’s a lot of distance between improbable and impossible, but Science Feedback used the analysis to further its narrative that the virus did not originate in a lab.

Related: VIP Live Chat: Join Us to Talk About Facebook Censorship, the COVID Cult, and More!

The study concludes:

Although the evidence shows that SARS-CoV-2 is not a purposefully manipulated virus, it is currently impossible to prove or disprove the other theories of its origin described here.

Yet again, the researchers preclude purposeful manipulation of the virus but admit that their favored theories about zoonotic origins can’t be proven.

But surely the writers at Nature, a prestigious science journal, can be trusted, right? Well, you decide. In an August 2020 article about the NIH cutting off funding to the EcoHealth Alliance, Nature wrote:

To carry out its research, EcoHealth Alliance partners with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) in China, which has been at the centre of unfounded rumours that the COVID-19 pandemic was caused by a coronavirus released from its laboratory. The NIH cancelled EcoHealth Alliance’s grant in April, days after US President Donald Trump told a reporter that the United States would stop funding work at the WIV. [Emphasis added]

There it is again: Not. A. Lab. Leak.

To summarize, fact-checkers, science journals, and NGOs like the EcoHealth Alliance (and don’t forget Dr. Fauci) have insisted from the beginning that the lab-leak theory was nothing more than a wild-eyed conspiracy theory invented by that dummy Donald Trump. They’ve carried water for the CCP and covered for the Wuhan lab. Based on that, media outlets (mostly conservative) have been punished by Facebook for disseminating false or misleading information when we suggested that a lab leak was possible. And in case you’re wondering, neither Nature nor the intrepid fact-checkers at Science Feedback have retracted or updated their articles insisting that COVID didn’t originate in a lab in Wuhan. The standards don’t apply to them.

Now, after more than a year, Facebook has announced that it will no longer remove posts that mention the lab-leak theory. “In light of ongoing investigations into the origin of COVID-19 and in consultation with public health experts, we will no longer remove the claim that COVID-19 is man-made from our apps,” a Facebook said in a statement.

The question must be asked: Who is fact-checking the fact-checkers?

For the last two years, we’ve tried to work behind the scenes with Facebook and Science Feedback to resolve scurrilous fact checks on everything from COVID-19 to climate change. Facebook and Science Feedback have not been honest brokers in our discussions. It’s bad enough that they’ve throttled our Facebook traffic and reduced our revenue, but they’ve also harmed our reputation and credibility by repeatedly calling us liars when we report something they don’t agree with, often on topics where the scientific community is deeply divided.

We demand an apology from Facebook and their dishonest fact-checkers for the defamation and the damage they’ve done to our reputation. It’s time for Facebook to sever its ties with Science Feedback and acknowledge the harm the partisan fact-checkers have caused. It’s the only way Facebook can restore its own credibility and earn back the trust of its customers.

Related: Facebook Reduced Political Content and Replaced It With Something Even More Diabolical

Has Facebook learned anything from the lab-leak fact-check debacle? Nah. The social media giant just tripled down. Now, instead of only punishing publishers who run afoul of the partisan fact-checkers, they’re coming for you, too, dear reader. Just announced:

Starting today, we will reduce the distribution of all posts in News Feed from an individual’s Facebook account if they repeatedly share content that has been rated by one of our fact-checking partners. We already reduce a single post’s reach in News Feed if it has been debunked. 

In other words, if you share content from a media outlet deemed unreliable by the hacks working behind the scenes at these “fact-checking” organizations, you will be punished too. Going forward, if you share articles that have been blacklisted by Facebook, they will reduce your influence on the platform—all of it, not just the offending articles. Pictures of your vacation, videos of your dog, and your tribute to your mother will all be hidden from the view of most people scrolling through their Facebook feeds.

Are you as outraged as I am?

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