'Masks work? NO': Twitter removes tweet by White House coronavirus adviser that says face coverings are not effective against COVID-19

  • Twitter removed a tweet by White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Scott Atlas who claimed that face coverings were not effective in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
  • The doctor, who joined the coronavirus task force in August, tweeted on Saturday: "Masks work? NO", alongside a link to an article that argued against the success of face coverings.
  • Atlas told Newsweek he had appealed the decision, adding: "Twitter seems to be censoring the science if it goes against their own goals of public indoctrination."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Twitter has removed a tweet from White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Scott Atlas who claimed that face coverings are not effective in stopping the virus's spread.

Atlas, who has previously spoken out against lockdowns, tweeted on Saturday: "Masks work? NO", alongside a link to an article that argued against the success of face coverings.

He later followed up this tweet by writing: "That means the right policy is [President Trump's] guideline: use masks for their intended purpose – when close to others, especially hi risk." Dr. Atlas also added that he believes widespread mask mandates are not needed.

Twitter has since removed his original tweet.

The social media platform has been cracking down on misinformation in recent months, posting warning labels on controversial tweets and,most recently, even temporarily blocking President Trump's account.

Under the new misinformation policy, Twitter prohibits sharing false or misleading content related to COVID-19, which could lead to harm.

According to a company spokesperson, Atlas's tweet was in violation of this policy, Newsweek reported.

"Twitter seems to be censoring the science if it goes against their own goals of public indoctrination," Atlas told Newsweek in an email, adding that he has since appealed the company's decision.

He also said that he made sure to "specifically and immediately" clarified in the second tweet that the correct policy was "use masks when one cannot socially distance." 

Atlas has a background in neuroradiology, not infectious diseases. He joined the White House coronavirus task force in August after becoming a fixture on Fox News.

He has previously been critical of top US infectious-disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, advocating for the full reopening of schools and speaking out against lockdown measures.

His new hiring has sparked concern in the scientific community, as more than 100 of Atlas' former colleagues at Stanford Medical School signed a letter warning that many of his "opinions and statements run counter to established science."

Billionaire Bill Gates also suggested last month that Atlas was hired because he "agrees" with what he described as the White House's "crackpot COVID theories." 

In an interview with Business Insider earlier this month, the doctor said that he thinks the criticism "stems from people who are either politically motivated or are interested in maintaining their own stature in the public eye."

"I'm not here to be an epidemiologist. I'm here because I can translate complicated medical science … in a way that is plain English and understandable by the public and by the White House," he said.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, face coverings "help stop the spread of COVID-19 to others." It recommends people wear them in public, especially when it is not possible to maintain social distancing. 

Business Insider has contacted Twitter for comment.

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