BY DOUGLAS MURRAY
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Its hypocritical attempts to clamp down on ‘misinformation’ are ultimately self-defeating
What do you do when your sources of information get corrupted? That is one of today’s great questions, as UnHerd discovered this week. On Wednesday, Facebook censored an article on these pages which was critical of the World Health Organisation, labelling it as “misinformation”. It was not UnHerd’s first run-in with the online censors, but it is perhaps the most baffling.
In the article in question, Ian Birrell suggested that there are very many reasons to be suspicious of the WHO’s recent report into the origins of the coronavirus. Its investigations were brief, its research was flimsy and the composition of its team was questionable. But most glaring of all was surely its attempt to exclude from consideration anything which might be inconvenient for the Chinese Communist Party. It concluded, for example, that there was no evidence that the virus had come either from the Wuhan wet market, or from the government-run laboratory in the area.
Birrell remarked on all of this and much more in his piece. All of it is public information — and in any healthy society it would be part of the public debate. I suspect that this eventually dawned on Facebook, which last night apologised and reinstated the piece. But why did it decide that the article constituted “misinformation” in the first place?
It’s worth noting, of course, that Facebook does have form in regards to censorship involving the Chinese Communist Party, and it does seem a remarkable coincidence that the one UnHerd article to receive such a content warning was deeply critical of the world’s most powerful totalitarian state. Moreover, a pattern of Big Tech censorship has emerged in recent years where dissident voices are smothered until the embarrassment caused becomes too much of a PR own goal for a platform, at which point it is announced to be a simple mistake. Someone pressed the wrong key. Perhaps.