Robert F Kennedy Jr has been banned from Instagram for what the company said was repeatedly sharing misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.
The son of the former US Attorney General, US Senator and presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy is a prominent vaccine skeptic who set up his own advocacy group called Children’s Health Defense in 2016.
The spokesperson told CNN there were no plans ‘at this time’ to take down Kennedy’s Facebook page, which remains active.
Facebook earlier this week said it would delete posts that it deemed to be spreading ‘misinformation’ about the vaccine – a move that some applauded, but that some slammed as censoring discussion about an important issue.
The company said the rules would apply to Facebook itself and also Instagram.
Kennedy, a lifelong Democrat, has previously lobbied Congress to allow parents who do not want to vaccinate their children exemptions from state mandates to do so.
His organization says it does not oppose vaccines, but is dedicated to questioning their safety.
A heading on a recent post read, ‘Vaccine Mandates: An Erosion of Civil Rights?’
The group, which was originally named the World Mercury Project, promotes claims generally not accepted by medical experts that mercury in vaccines can cause autism.
At a public event in February 2017, Kennedy alleged that vaccines had ’caused an autism epidemic’.
During the Washington, DC event, Kennedy and actor Robert De Niro offered $100,000 to anyone who could prove that vaccines were safe.
More recently, Children’s Health Defense has engaged in furthering the ‘great reset’ conspiracy theory that claims that ‘global elites’ – including Microsoft founder and public health philanthropist Bill Gates – will use the pandemic to advance their interests, a claim health experts consider outlandish and false.
Kennedy’s group posted on its social media channels about the conspiracy theory, which warns that individuals including Gates are seeking to pursue a globalist/Marxist plot to destroy US sovereignty and the personal freedoms of American citizens.
University of California law professor Dorit Reiss said Kennedy’s famous name and connections give him a platform – and an air of legitimacy – that others in the anti-vaccine movement don’t enjoy.
‘The anti-vaccine movement pride themselves on bucking authority, but are also desperate for legitimacy’ Reiss told the Globe and Mail late last year. ‘Robert Kennedy gives them both.”
In December 2020, Kennedy’s doctor niece who cared for coronavirus patients in New York City at the height of the pandemic called out her uncle for spreading ‘misinformation’.
In an op-ed for the New York Times, Kerry Kennedy Meltzer, 29, wrote that she loves her uncle Robert F. Kennedy Jr. yet ‘when it comes to vaccines, he is wrong’.
‘When a Covid vaccine is offered to you, I urge you to take it,’ she said. ‘Do it for yourself, for your family and for your friends. Do it for your country.’
Members of his own family have hit out against his views before, including his siblings, former Maryland Lieutenant Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, former Massachusetts Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II and Maeve Kennedy McKean.
They posted an op-ed in 2019 saying their brother was ‘tragically wrong’ about vaccines.
‘He has helped to spread dangerous misinformation over social media and is complicit in sowing distrust of the science behind vaccines,’ they said amid a surge that time in measles cases.
Meanwhile, Kennedy’s Children’s Health Defense Fund has hit back itself.
It filed a lawsuit last year against Facebook and three fact-checking companies, alleging they censored posts and misrepresented and defamed the group.
Kennedy has insisted that he is not against vaccines, saying he is in favor of ‘safe’ vaccines, and that his own children have been vaccinated.
Kennedy is just the latest high-profile figure to be blocked by social media sites over claims the sites have deemed as false.
Following the siege of the Capitol building on January 6, then-President Donald Trump was banned from virtually all social media networks, including Facebook, over accusations that he incited the rioters.
The accusations are the subject of the second impeachment trial against Trump, which began yesterday.
The Twitter account of company MyPillow received a permanent Twitter ban after CEO Mike Lindell tweeted from it to circumvent a ban on his personal account for spreading false claims that Trump won the 2020 presidential election.
The coronavirus pandemic and US election have heaped – in some corners – pressure on social media sites to crack down on those who share what’s considered to be false information.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Charlotte Mitchell