Instagram took down the account of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the political scion and outstanding anti-vaccine activist, on Wednesday over false info associated to the coronavirus.
“We eliminated this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims concerning the coronavirus or vaccines,” Fb, which owns Instagram, mentioned in an announcement.
Mr. Kennedy, the son of the previous senator and U.S. Lawyer Normal Robert F. Kennedy, labored for many years as an environmental lawyer however is now higher generally known as an anti-vaccine crusader. A 2019 examine discovered that two teams together with his nonprofit, now known as Kids’s Well being Protection, had funded greater than half of Fb ads spreading misinformation about vaccines.
He has discovered a good broader viewers in the course of the pandemic on platforms like Instagram, the place he had 800,000 followers. Although Mr. Kennedy has mentioned he isn’t against vaccines so long as they’re protected, he repeatedly endorses discredited hyperlinks between vaccines and autism and has argued that it’s safer to contract the coronavirus than to be inoculated towards it.
Fb is changing into extra aggressive in its efforts to stamp out vaccine misinformation, saying this week that it will take away posts with inaccurate claims concerning the coronavirus, coronavirus vaccines and vaccines basically, whether or not they’re paid ads or user-generated posts. Along with Mr. Kennedy’s Instagram account, the corporate mentioned it had eliminated a number of different Instagram accounts and Fb pages on Wednesday underneath its up to date insurance policies.
They didn’t embody Mr. Kennedy’s Fb web page, which was nonetheless energetic as of early Thursday and makes lots of the similar baseless claims to greater than 300,000 followers. The corporate mentioned it didn’t mechanically disable accounts throughout its platforms and that there have been no plans to take down Mr. Kennedy’s Fb account “at the moment.”
Kids’s Well being Protection didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.
Members of Mr. Kennedy’s household have spoken out towards 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. One other niece, Kerry Kennedy Meltzer, a physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Middle, wrote an opinion essay in The New York Instances in December difficult his claims.
“I like my uncle Bobby,” she wrote. “I like him for a lot of causes, chief amongst them his decades-long battle for a cleaner setting. However in terms of vaccines, he’s mistaken.”