Instagram Bans Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Over COVID-19 Vaccine Claims

Instagram Bans Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Over COVID-19 Vaccine Claims
Attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. attends the 2018 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights' Ripple Of Hope Awards at New York Hilton Midtown in New York City on Dec. 12, 2018. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

Facebook-owned Instagram this week banned Robert Kennedy Jr. from the photograph sharing service over claims he circulated regarding COVID-19 vaccines.

“We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines,” Facebook said in a statement to news outlets.

Kennedy founded the Children’s Health Defense organization and regularly highlights safety concerns about vaccines. In recent posts on other social media websites, he has noted a lawsuit against Merck alleging its HPV vaccine caused infertility and a research article (pdf) that suggests the messenger RNA technology used in COVID-19 vaccines could “cause more disease than the epidemic of COVID-19.”
He’s also posted stories about post-COVID vaccination cases of thrombocytopenia, a rare blood disorder.

Facebook didn’t cite specific posts.

Kennedy’s account on Facebook itself remains active. A company spokesperson told news outlets that there are no plans “at this time” to remove that account.

Children’s Health Defense didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Facebook announced earlier this week that it was expanding efforts “to remove false claims on Facebook and Instagram about COVID-19 and vaccines.”
COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
A 3D-printed Facebook logo is seen placed on a keyboard in this illustration taken March 25, 2020. (Dado Ruvic/Illustration)
A 3D-printed Facebook logo is seen placed on a keyboard in this illustration taken March 25, 2020. (Dado Ruvic/Illustration)
In addition to promoting “reliable information” about the disease and vaccines, Facebook said it was adding to the list of false claims it would remove. The claims include allegations that COVID-19 is manmade or manufactured, claims vaccines are not effective at preventing the disease they are meant to protect against, and claims that vaccines are toxic, dangerous, or cause autism.

The expansion came after consultation with the United Nations’ World Health Organization, which is closely tied to the CCP, and other “leading health organizations,” Facebook said.

Kennedy, 67, the son of Robert F. Kennedy and the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, is an environmental activist who has stirred controversy with his crusading against vaccines and other sensitive topics in the modern world.

Three family members in 2019 penned an op-ed calling their relative “part of a misinformation campaign” surrounding vaccines, alleging he was “complicit in sowing distrust of the science behind vaccines.”

While cheering Kennedy’s advocacy against multinational organizations, the relatives said Kennedy was correct about vaccines having side effects but alleged the benefits “far outweigh” them and that “numerous studies from many countries by many researchers have concluded that there is no link between autism and vaccines.”

“I grew up in a milieu where we argued every night at the dinner table,” Kennedy later told Town & Country magazine when asked about the piece. “We were encouraged to argue and to maintain friendships with each other, all of our family love, so I don’t think it’s had any effect. It’s just that we differ about these things.”

In a blog post on Children’s Health Defense, Kennedy said his relatives “defamed me” and that Politico, which published the op-ed, declined to print “my thoroughly sourced reply.” The New York Times also declined to publish a rebuttal following another critical op-ed, he wrote last month.

“Neither of these long critiques by my family members cite a single example of a factual error by me. Their complaint is that I question official pronouncements about vaccine safety,” he said.

“It’s a bad omen for democracy when citizens can no longer conduct civil, informed debates about critical policies that impact the vitality of our economy, public health, personal freedoms and constitutional rights. Censorship is violence and this systematic muzzling of debate which proponents justify as a measure to curtail dangerous polarization is actually fueling those divisions.”

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