Facebook and Instagram flagged posts from the Fox News show “Tucker Carlson Tonight” as false information on Wednesday, saying that they repeated information about Covid-19 “that multiple independent fact checkers say is false.”
The show posted a video on the social media platforms on Tuesday night with the caption “Chinese whistle-blower to Tucker: This virus was made in a lab & I can prove it.” The posts feature a segment in which Mr. Carlson interviewed Li-Meng Yan, a Chinese virologist who claims that the virus “is not from nature.”
Intelligence agencies have been skeptical that the pathogen can be conclusively linked to a lab. Scientists who have studied the genetics of the virus agree that it began as a bat virus and likely evolved to jump to humans. Many have dismissed theories that the virus infected researchers in a lab accident.
On Tuesday night, Facebook and Instagram placed screens of varying levels of opacity over images of the “Tucker Carlson Tonight” video along with a “false information” warning while also allowing users an option to watch it. A similar post on Twitter, which has suspended Dr. Yan’s account, was untouched as of Wednesday afternoon.
On Wednesday, Mr. Carlson’s show updated the captions to say that “Facebook is trying its best to censor this video.” In a separate Facebook post, Mr. Carlson’s team wrote that Facebook “is working hard” to prevent people from viewing the interview segment and vowed to address the situation on Wednesday’s show.
The video has been viewed more than 478,000 times on Instagram and shared more than 62,000 times on Facebook.
Earlier this week, a report about the virus, co-written by Dr. Yan, was published by two nonprofit organizations, the Rule of Law Society and the Rule of Law Foundation. According to The Daily Beast, both are linked to Steve Bannon, the former adviser to President Trump who was recently charged with fraud.