A video of a man claiming that school mask mandates are unsafe because an air quality monitor placed under a child’s mask causes a carbon dioxide alert is circulating as “evidence” that masks cause low oxygen levels — but that’s not true. He was misusing the monitor. Let’s take a look at the facts.
Here is a full copy of the video:
This rumor highlights a number of key news literacy concepts and trends. First, it’s part of a larger pattern of parents and citizens repeating COVID-19 misinformation at public meetings. It’s also an example of faulty evidence that might seem substantive — until expert sources are checked. Also, the fact that this TikTok video was captured and re-posted to other platforms, demonstrates the cross-platform nature of misinformation online. Finally, it also underscores the power of confirmation bias, or the tendency to readily embrace information that seems to uphold one’s previous beliefs and ideas. Many of the people applauding in the video, and presumably many of the people sharing this video online, appear to have accepted the demonstration as evidence that masks aren’t safe without stopping to question whether it was a meaningful or reliable test.
“Another air quality monitor demonstration fails to show masks reduce oxygen” (Tom Kertscher, PolitiFact).
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