President Joe Biden has been faced with many weird and wild conspiracy theories throughout his tenure, from being deeply faked in White House videos to the person in the Oval Office being his (non-existent) twin brother.

On her recent trip to Ireland, it was claimed that she traveled with a child on Air Force One when in fact, and quite cruelly, it was her granddaughter.

Another claim that arose from his trip was that signs of the president wearing “a mask” could be seen as he took a moment to scratch the back of his neck.

Joe Biden in Ireland
President Joe Biden looks around a bulletproof protective screen during a celebration event at St. Muredach’s Cathedral on April 14, 2023, in Ballina, Ireland. A video of Biden during his trip was shared online with claims that he was wearing a mask.
Leon Neal/Getty Images

the claim

A Stew Peters tweet, posted on April 25, 2023, viewed 3.6 million times, shows a clip of Biden with the message: “What the hell is this?”

The clip shows Joe Biden speaking to a crowd. As he does so, he scratches the back of his neck, leaving what looks like an indentation. A person filming in the back of the video can be heard saying, “Oh my gosh, that’s a mask! Holy cow!”

The facts

The video was shared on the conspiracy Telegram channel HATS, posted on April 23, 2023, with the question “What do you think? Biden mask?”

There is no evidence that Biden is wearing a mask, and neither the tweet nor the Telegram post attempt to make a serious claim to that effect. However, since Peters and HATS share conspiratorial content, it’s not unreasonable to believe that this is a sincere attempt to convince their audiences of that claim.

While the clip appears to show the skin imprint along Biden’s neck after he scratches himself, the clip presents no other information showing why that happened.

The video was taken when Biden was in Ireland and held a meet and greet with US embassy staff at Dublin airport.

The longer, higher-quality video footage on C-SPAN shows the president wearing a shirt that added a degree of pressure around his neck. There are several moments during the video where you can see the pressure building up around his shirt collar.

As a result, as you turn your neck, the wrinkles appear more prominent along the collar of the shirt. The effect is not commonly seen, since most presidential speeches are made toward the crowd, not away from it.

Additionally, the video quality in the shared Twitter clip is lowered, the clip’s duration is edited, and the contrast is increased, making it harder to discern context and developing the impression of darker tones. The original video shows a more natural skin tone and appearance, and the effect is somewhat less pronounced.

In any case, this clip does not show, nor is there any evidence, that Biden is wearing a mask. Although there is a possibility that the clip was intended as a hit, the audiences it was shared with indicate a degree of sincerity.


misleading material

misleading material

This poor quality, highly contrasted video was taken from Biden’s recent trip to Ireland. The effect described in the video is the result of her shirt collar being pressed against the side of her neck, which cannot be seen in the clip shared online.

Video shared online emphasizes the effect, while higher quality images (with a more natural looking and skin tone) detract from it.

FACT CHECK BY Newsweek Fact Check Team

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