Australian chef's Facebook account banned for sharing misinformation about coronavirus

Evans had been an influential promoter of conspiracy theories about the pandemic and vaccines
Last Updated 24 December 2020, 05:35 IST

Facebook has banned Australian celebrity chef and conspiracy theorist Pete Evans for repeatedly spreading misinformation about the coronavirus.

With more than a million social media followers, Evans had been an influential promoter of conspiracy theories about the pandemic and vaccines.

Facebook said Thursday it would not "allow anyone to share misinformation about Covid-19 that could lead to imminent physical harm" or falsehoods about Covid-19 vaccines.

"We have clear policies against this type of content and we've removed Chef Pete Evans' Facebook Page for repeated violations of these policies," the company said in a statement.

The former chef's page on Instagram -- a Facebook-owned platform -- with 278,000 followers is still active, however, and includes posts that encourage Sydney residents to defy public health officials and refuse to get tested for the virus.

Australia's largest city is currently battling to contain a cluster of more 100 cases that ended months of low community transmission.

Evans said on Instagram Thursday that he was glad to be "one of the catalysts for a conversation" about freedom of speech and described the science around the pandemic as "BS".

Facebook has previously banned some high profile accounts that peddled misinformation and hate speech, most notably those of conspiracist Alex Jones and far-right figure Milo Yiannopoulos.

Under fierce scrutiny and criticism that the platform is debasing public debate, Facebook has also announced a ban on accounts linked to the QAnon conspiracy group.

Evans was previously known for promoting pseudoscientific dieting ideas -- often linked to his own commercial enterprises -- such as the palaeolithic diet, earning him the nickname "Paleo" Pete.

Several companies recently ditched Evans and his books were pulled from the shelves after he posted a "black sun" Nazi symbol on social media.

Evans denies trafficking in lies, and denounces what he calls "fear-based propaganda."

"The pandemic is a hoax. It is as simple as that" he told AFP earlier this year, without offering any credible evidence.

(Published 24 December 2020, 05:04 IST)

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