Zuckerberg Acknowledges Promoting COVID-19 Disinformation

In an extraordinary admission last week, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg confessed to “censoring” COVID-19 information under pressure from the federal government. He was interviewed on the “Lex Fridman Podcast.”

To his credit, he did not try to cloak Facebook’s actions as “content moderation” or claim they were done for the safety of the public.

Zuckerberg acknowledged that there was much information in the early days of the pandemic that had not had time to be fully vetted. This led to the establishment suppressing healthy discussions of presumptions that had yet to be properly researched.

The CEO asserted his belief that “a lot of the kind of establishment on that kind of waffled on a bunch of facts and asked for a bunch of things to be censored that, in retrospect, ended up being more debatable or true.”

Zuckerberg added that suppressing this type of information “is really tough, right? It really undermines trust.”

He explained that there is a “tricky” line when someone is censored for having false information that “may not be harmful…Are you going to censor someone for just being wrong, if there’s no kind of harm implication of what they’re doing?”

Fridman expressed his concern that nuance and depth of information may be lacking on the internet and in AI systems. This, he charged, was due to content moderation demanded by governments and institutions.

The host called this curtailing of information “a scary thought.”

Zuckerberg in 2021 told CBS News’ Gayle King that Facebook had taken down 18 million postings allegedly containing misinformation about the pandemic. He asserted that if content moderators detected misinformation, it was removed per policy.

The CEO admitted to King that it was an imperfect system and everything was not caught. He said mistakes were made, but the 18 million figure was “the best number that we have in terms of what we’ve seen and what our systems have been able to detect.”

In 2022, Zuckerberg came under fire from several state Attorneys General. The officials gathered information alleging that Facebook worked with former National Institution of Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Dr. Anthony Fauci to “discredit and suppress” the lab leak theory.

This is the now widely held belief that COVID-19 originated from a research facility in Wuhan, China.