- Instagram has banned Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for promoting anti-vaccine claims.
- Kennedy has long pushed debunked claims linking vaccines to conditions such as autism.
- Facebook has vowed to crack down on the promotion of vaccination misinformation.
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Instagram has banned Robert F Kennedy Jr, one of the world’s most high-profile anti-vaccine activists, for violating its policies against spreading misinformation.
“We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines,” said Facebook, which owns Instagram, in a statement Wednesday.
Kennedy has long claimed, on the basis of debunked research, that vaccines are tied to a range of severe childhood conditions, including autism. He is the chairman of the Children’s Health Defence, a group that campaigns against vaccines.
A 2018 report found that Kennedy’s group was one of the two largest purchasers of advertisements to promote anti-vaccine misinformation on Facebook.
Kennedy has claimed that governments and media organisations are engaged in a conspiracy to suppress evidence of the harmful effects of vaccines. He has also spread conspiracy theories about COVID-19, with the Centre for Countering Digital Hate finding that his Instagram following ballooned during the pandemic.
Kennedy is the son of former attorney general Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968 after launching his presidential campaign, and the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963.
In May 2019, several members of the Kennedy family published an open letter distancing themselves from his views, which they called “tragically wrong.”
Kennedy’s removal from Instagram comes after Facebook announced in December new policies to prevent the spread of vaccine misinformation on its platform, as governments and health authorities began to roll out COVID-19 vaccines.
Insider’s Isobel Asher Hamilton has also found that Instagram, not Facebook, was the main platform where anti-vaccine misinformation was spreading.
As of Thursday morning, Kennedy’s Facebook page remains active. Facebook and Instagram operate separate enforcement policies, with users sometimes banned from one platform but not the other.
A spokesperson for Facebook did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.