Instagram took down the account of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the political scion and distinguished anti-vaccine activist, on Wednesday over false data associated to the coronavirus.
“We eliminated this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims in regards to the coronavirus or vaccines,” Facebook, which owns Instagram, stated in a press release.
Mr. Kennedy, the son of the previous senator and U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, labored for many years as an environmental lawyer however is now higher referred to as an anti-vaccine crusader. A 2019 research discovered that two teams together with his nonprofit, now known as Children’s Health Defense, had funded greater than half of Facebook ads spreading misinformation about vaccines.
He has discovered an excellent broader viewers through the pandemic on platforms like Instagram, the place he had 800,000 followers. Though Mr. Kennedy has stated he isn’t against vaccines so long as they’re secure, he frequently endorses discredited hyperlinks between vaccines and autism and has argued that it’s safer to contract the coronavirus than to be inoculated in opposition to it.
Facebook is turning into extra aggressive in its efforts to stamp out vaccine misinformation, saying this week that it could take away posts with inaccurate claims in regards to the coronavirus, coronavirus vaccines and vaccines basically, whether or not they’re paid ads or user-generated posts. In addition to Mr. Kennedy’s Instagram account, the corporate stated it had eliminated eight different Instagram accounts and Facebook pages on Wednesday underneath its up to date insurance policies.
They didn’t embrace Mr. Kennedy’s Facebook web page, which was nonetheless lively as of early Thursday and makes most of the identical baseless claims to greater than 300,000 followers. The firm that stated it didn’t routinely disable accounts throughout its platforms and that there have been no plans to take down Mr. Kennedy’s Facebook account “presently.”
Children’s Health Defense didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.
Members of Mr. Kennedy’s household have spoken out in opposition to his anti-vaccine efforts, together with a brother, sister and niece who accused him of spreading “harmful misinformation” in a column they wrote for Politico in 2019. Another niece, Kerry Kennedy Meltzer, a physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, wrote an opinion essay in The New York Times in December difficult his claims.
“I really like my uncle Bobby,” she wrote. “I love him for a lot of causes, chief amongst them his decades-long struggle for a cleaner atmosphere. But in relation to vaccines, he’s flawed.”