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False N95 mask document bearing CDC letterhead removed from social media.

Several social media posts have been popping up showing a CDC document which recommends against the use of face masks fueling an army of anti-mask Facebook users.

The document sparked a fact-checking article to be published by Reuters who reached out to the CDC directly to check the article’s validity.  You can find their article here.

Turns out, the document was fake.

The posts have since been taken down but the misleading information it provided helped to falsely inform mask related debates on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.  

The document bared the official CDC letterhead and claimed several things—the most deceitful being that face masks are ineffective and not to be worn. 

This left many puzzled as it appeared to be an official CDC document.

Image courtesy: Facebook

It also stated that N95 masks are not designed to filter exhaled breath because they are made for contaminated environments. 

This is partially true for N95 masks fitted with a valve however the CDC explains that masks with a valve provide “the same level of protection to the wearer as one that does not have a valve”.

Another part of the document spoke about surgical masks claiming that “if you come in contact with COVID, your mask TRAPS IT, YOU become a walking virus dispenser”.

This is blatantly untrue. 

Per the CDC, surgical masks protect against “large-particle droplets splashes, but do not filter against smaller particles transmitted through aerosols from coughing or sneezing.

No trap to be had here.

Thankfully, the document is now removed but the damage it caused still remains. Social media can be a useful communication tool but it’s a double-edged sword.

Our best defense against the inherent deception that comes with such platforms is knowledge and education.  

The lesson here is to always check your sources and be aware that others may be unknowingly misinformed.

Oh, and wear a mask. 

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