Atlas' tweet echoes President Donald Trump's misleading claims about masks even as the U.S. grapples with grim new spikes in cases.
Trump has praised Atlas, who diverges from government medical experts about the seriousness of the pandemic. "World Health Organization:"widesprd use not supported" + many harms; Heneghan/Oxf CEBM:"despite decades, considerble uncertainty re value"; CDC rvw May:"no sig red'n in inflnz transm'n"; learn why".
The post in question provided a link to an article from The American Institute for Economic Research which cast doubt on the effectiveness of mask wearing among the general population during influenza outbursts, with a comment from Atlas reading "Masks work? No".
Atlas wrote in a second tweet that day that the "right" policy is Trump's guideline: "use masks for their intended goal, when close to others, especially high risk".
Twitter stated that the tweet violated the social media company's rules on disputed or misleading information: "If we determine a Tweet contains misleading or disputed information that could lead to harm, we may add a label to the content to provide context".
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 hard to maintain.
Last month, an NBC News reporter overheard Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, telling a colleague in a phone call that Atlas is arming Trump with misleading data.
According to United States government data, more than 8 million COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the country since the start of the pandemic, which resulted in 217, 918 deaths.