SANTA BARBARA, CALIF. - Dr. Scott Atlas is a neuroradiologist, a fellow at a conservative-leaning think tank, a science adviser to President Donald Trump and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
He is also the latest person in Trump’s world to have a tweet blocked by Twitter.
Over the weekend, Atlas tweeted “Masks work? NO,” and said widespread use of masks is not supported, according to the Associated Press. Twitter told the AP that the tweet violated its policy that prohibits false and misleading information about COVID-19 that could lead to harm.
The “This Tweet is unavailable” label was put on Atlas’ Twitter feed where his tweet once was.
Atlas followed up with another tweet, which remained on the site as of Sunday night. He praised what he called Trump’s “guideline,” which is to “use masks for their intended purpose – when close to others, especially hi risk. Otherwise, social distance. No widespread mandates.”
That means the right policy is @realDonaldTrump guideline: use masks for their intended purpose - when close to others, especially hi risk. Otherwise, social distance. No widespread mandates. #CommonSense https://t.co/GZpBZxfNYa— Scott W. Atlas (@ScottWAtlas) October 17, 2020
The deletion of Atlas’ tweet is the latest in what has become an ongoing battle between Trump and internet companies. Twitter has blocked or put warnings on Trump’s tweets regarding COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, as well as vote-by-mail.
Last week, Twitter temporarily blocked the Trump campaign’s ability to share a story about his presidential challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden. Some congressional leaders accuse Twitter, Facebook and other internet companies of bias and say they are unfairly limiting speech close to the U.S. election. Some have called for the leaders of Twitter and Facebook, which has also taken action on some of Trump’s posts, to testify in front of Congress as soon as the coming week.
Twitter told the AP it relies on public health authorities to determine whether a statement is false or misleading.
In September, Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testified at a congressional hearing that masks are “the most powerful public health tool” against the coronavirus.
Atlas, a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, joined the White House task force in August. A medical doctor, Atlas does not have a background in infectious diseases or public health. He is reportedly helping to shape the White House policies about how to handle the virus, including policies about masks and other issues.
Atlas told the AP that Twitter’s actions were censorship.
“General population masks and mask mandates do not work,” he said.