Facebook’s Instagram kicked notorious anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. off the platform for violations of its COVID-19 misinformation policy, but his Facebook account currently remains active.
“We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement about Kennedy’s Instagram account. However, the company does not “at this time” plan to disable his account on Facebook, according to the rep, noting that users may post different content to different services.
Kennedy’s Instagram account had about 800,000 followers before it was taken down. His Facebook page has more than 300,000 followers.
The removal of his Instagram account comes after Facebook this week said it was expanding efforts to remove false claims on Facebook and Instagram about COVID-19, coronavirus vaccines and vaccines in general. To date, according to the social giant, it has removed more than 12 million posts on Facebook and Instagram with COVID misinformation “that could lead to imminent physical harm.”
Facebook didn’t reveal the specific material Kennedy, a lawyer and the son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, shared on Instagram that led to his account suspension. Kennedy has been a vocal anti-vaccination figure and has promoted disproven claims linking childhood vaccinations to autism. Earlier this week, he reposted conspiracy video “Planet Lockdown,” which Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have banned, that among other things falsely asserts that coronavirus vaccines contain microchips and may cause infertility.
In addition to RFK Jr.’s Instagram account, under Facebook’s updated COVID-19 misinformation policies, the company disabled pages four Facebook pages (4americaunite, VaXismNEWS, worldtruthtv, vaxxed2, energytheraphyuk); the Facebook Group “nofacemasks”; and two other Instagram accounts (@highwiretalk and @virusesarenotcontagious).
Kennedy is the chairman of Children’s Health Defense, a not-for-profit group that questions the safety of vaccines. He cofounded the group in 2018 with two parents of “vaccine-injured children.” The org says its mission is “to end the childhood health epidemics by working aggressively to eliminate harmful exposures, hold those responsible accountable, and establish safeguards to prevent future harm.” In a Politico op-ed in 2019, three of his relatives, including his siblings Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Joseph P. Kennedy II, wrote, “We love Robert F. Kennedy Jr., but he is part of a misinformation campaign that’s having heartbreaking — and deadly — consequences.”
Kennedy also serves as counsel to Morgan & Morgan, a national personal-injury law firm. He is the former president of Waterkeeper Alliance, an umbrella group for 300 local clean-water advocacy organizations.