- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has banned from his social media platforms any claims that the novel coronavirus vaccine alters DNA, although he himself expressed similar concerns last year.

Project Veritas released video Tuesday of Mr. Zuckerberg raising questions about whether vaccines include risks of side effects such as “modifying people’s DNA and RNA” in July during a virtual Q&A meeting with staff.

“I do just want to make sure that I share some caution on this because we just don’t know the long-term side effects of basically modifying people’s DNA and RNA to directly code in a person’s DNA and RNA,” Mr. Zuckerberg said in the video. “Basically the ability to produce those antibodies and whether that causes other mutations or other risks downstream.”

He concluded: “So there’s work on both paths of vaccine development.”

In a Feb. 8 post, Facebook updated its COVID-19 and vaccine policies “to protect people from harmful content and new types of abuse related to COVID-19 and vaccines,” saying it would remove posts that included “Claims that the COVID-19 vaccine changes people’s DNA.”

Project Veritas president James O’Keefe said that the newly leaked tape showed Mr. Zuckerberg “violating his own code of conduct” and that “he would be censored on the platform today for what he said.”

“Isn’t it interesting that Zuckerberg can vacillate and evolve his thinking on the subject of vaccines, but as soon as he’s made up his mind or appears to have made up his mind on the topic, he disallows the almost three billion Facebook users to do the same?” Mr. O’Keefe asked. “Rules for thee, but not for me.”  

Strictly speaking, Mr. Zuckerberg did not claim that the vaccine changes DNA, but in a Nov. 30 public livestream, he was still concerned enough to raise the issue with White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“Just to clear up one point, my understanding is that these vaccines do not modify your DNA or RNA,” said Mr. Zuckerberg. “So that’s just an important point to clarify, if I’m getting anything wrong here, of course correct me.”

Dr. Fauci assured the tech titan that nobody’s DNA was in any danger, saying, “No, first of all, DNA is inherent in your own nuclear cell. Sticking in anything foreign will ultimately get cleared.”

Mr. Zuckerberg responded: “I’m glad we can clear that up.”

Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone pointed out that the July discussion came in the early days of COVID-19 vaccine development and shortly after Moderna released initial-stage trial results for its vaccination, which used the groundbreaking messenger RNA, or mRNA, approach.

The COVID-19 vaccines were the first mRNA vaccinations cleared by the Food and Drug Administration, which did so last year under its emergency use authorization. Unlike traditional vaccines, which insert a weakened germ into the body, an mRNA vaccine tricks the cells into producing antibodies.

Medical experts have sought to debunk the vaccines-alter-DNA rumors, which are evidently rife on social media.

“mRNA from the vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell and does not affect or interact with a person’s DNA,” said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a post last reviewed on Nov. 24.

The platform’s newly issued COVID-19 rules apply to both Facebook and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.

The latest Project Veritas video comes as part of the guerilla journalism outfit’s ongoing undercover expose into social media platforms.

Last week, Twitter permanently banned a Project Veritas account after the group posted a video showing its reporter accosting a Facebook vice president outside his home and asking him about the tech giant’s hate-speech policy.

Twitter told Project Veritas that the account was banned for violating the platform’s rules on “posting private information,” which may have referred to background shots of the executive’s house.

A lock on Mr. O’Keefe’s Twitter account was lifted on Feb. 11 after he deleted the tweet, which he did in a live video, saying he was doing so “against my own conscience so that I can utilize our Twitter account moving forward.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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