Twitter on Sunday removed a “misleading” tweet from White House coronavirus task force member Scott Atlas that sought to undermine the importance of face masks in protecting oneself from Covid-19, Reuters reported.
Atlas, a close aide of United States President Donald Trump, wrote: “Masks work? NO,” followed by a series of misrepresentations about the science behind the use of masks in combating the spread of Covid-19. The tweet also had a link to an article in the American Institute for Economic Research that argues against the effectiveness of masks in curbing the disease, according to CNN.
Twitter Inc removed the tweet, saying it violated its misleading information policy on Covid-19, which targets statements that have been confirmed to be false or misleading by experts. The White House had no immediate comment on the decision.
Atlas’ statement also goes against the guidelines laid down by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends people wear masks in public settings, especially when other physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
The White House expert’s public stance on the virus is similar to Trump’s, who has often undermined the use of masks, and even refused to wear one for the longest. Both Trump and Atlas decried the idea that schools cannot reopen this fall as “hysteria” and have pushed for the resumption of sports in colleges.
Twitter has also censored false and misleading claims made by Trump about the coronavirus on the microblogging website.
In September, Twitter had deleted a tweet shared by Trump that downplayed the coronavirus death count in the country. The tweet was copied from someone else’s Facebook post and claimed that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had “quietly” updated its numbers “to admit that only 6%” of people listed under coronavirus deaths, or about 90,000 had “actually died” from the infection. The rest of the deaths were because of other illnesses, the tweet claimed.
Besides Twitter, social media giant Facebook too took action against the president and his 2020 election campaign team for making false claims about the coronavirus in August. Facebook removed from Trump’s official account the post of a video clip from a Fox News interview in which he had said that children are “almost immune” from the novel coronavirus. He had also said that he believes schools should reopen in the country.
Twitter hid a tweet from the Team Trump campaign account with the same video, and banned it from tweeting.
The United States has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world. As of Monday, the country had reported over 81.54 lakh infections and more than 2.19 lakh deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University.