Twitter removes tweet from Trump coronavirus adviser that undermined importance of masks
Posted October 17, 2020 10:47 p.m. EDT
Updated October 18, 2020 2:07 p.m. EDT
CNN — Twitter has removed a tweet from White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Scott Atlas that sought to undermine the importance of face masks because it was in violation of the platform's Covid-19 Misleading Information Policy, a spokesman for the company confirmed on Sunday.
Atlas wrote in a tweet posted Saturday, "Masks work? NO" followed by a series of misrepresentations about the science behind the effectiveness of masks in combating the pandemic.
The tweet, which comes as coronavirus cases spike across the US, also linked to an article in the American Institute for Economic Research that argues against the effectiveness of masks, among other things.
According to Twitter, the policy Atlas violated prohibits sharing false or misleading content related to Covid-19 that could lead to harm.
CNN has reached out to the White House for comment from Atlas.
The message pushed by the controversial neuroradiologist goes against guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends people wear masks in public settings and when around people who don't live in their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
Earlier guidance from US officials didn't recommend widespread masking, but in April, the CDC recommended face coverings for the general public given that people without symptoms could unknowingly transmit the virus.
Masks are primarily to prevent people who have the virus from infecting others.
Atlas' tweet echoes President Donald Trump's misleading claims about masks even as the US grapples with grim new spikes in cases. A federal official told CNN last month that CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield is concerned that Atlas is providing Trump with misleading information about Covid-19.
Ten states reported their highest single-day tallies of new Covid-19 infections Friday, as experts say a dangerous fall surge of coronavirus infections is well underway.
In all, the US reported more than 69,100 new Covid-19 infections Friday -- the most in a single day since about 71,300 were reported on July 29, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Unlike the government's medical experts who advised Trump in the early months of the pandemic, Atlas has adopted a public stance on the virus much closer to the President's -- including decrying the idea that schools cannot reopen this fall as "hysteria" and pushing for the resumption of college sports.
"He's working with us and will be working with us on the coronavirus," Trump said in August. "And he has many great ideas. And he thinks what we've done is really good, and now we'll take it to a new level."
This headline and story have been updated with Twitter's removal of Atlas' tweet.