Video Airs False, Misleading Claims About Face Masks

Quick Take

Evidence of the efficacy of face masks to help control the spread of the novel coronavirus has grown since the start of the pandemic. But a Facebook video, viewed tens of thousands of times, uses false and misleading claims to tell viewers that masks are “unsafe” and “ineffective.”

This image from the National Institute of Standards and Technology illustrates airflow when coughing with and without a mask. Credit: M. Staymates/N. Hanacek/NIST

Full Story

A Missouri-based chiropractor — who has been previously warned by federal officials to stop spreading misleading content regarding unproven COVID-19 treatments — is now wrongly telling Facebook users that face masks have been proven “unsafe” and “ineffective.”

In a Feb. 11 video live-streamed on Facebook and viewed more than 70,000 times, Eric Nepute rattles off a list of 20 arguments against wearing face masks — claiming, for example, that they cause cavities and “facial deformities” and increase the chances of contracting the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

But many of Nepute’s claims are false, misleading or unsupported. And a central takeaway — that masks are “ineffective” — is rebuffed by recent evidence to the contrary.

Two doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently summarized the growing evidence that masks can help to control community spread of the virus. In a piece for the Journal of the American Medical Association, they wrote: “Compelling data now demonstrate that community mask wearing is an effective nonpharmacologic intervention to reduce the spread of this infection, especially as source control to prevent spread from infected persons, but also as protection to reduce wearers’ exposure to infection.”

Rather than cite credible research on masks, Nepute largely adapted his claims from; a recent State Department said the website “has been a steady source of anti-U.S. and anti-Western disinformation and propaganda ever since” its 2001 debut.

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