Robert F Kennedy Jr banned from Instagram over false COVID-19 claims

Robert F Kennedy, 67, is BANNED from Instagram for ‘repeatedly sharing false claims about COVID-19’ as he rails against vaccine

  • Robert F Kennedy Jr is a prominent anti-vaxxer with his own advocacy group, called Childrens’s Health Defense
  • Facebook, which owns Instagram, said Kennedy was banned ‘for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines’
  • The 67-year-old insists he is not against all vaccines, but wants open discussion about them and wants parents to be able to choose
  • Still, several of his prominent family members have publicly criticized his stance on vaccines as dangerous  
  • Some free speech advocates have warned about Facebook and other tech giants essentially becoming the ‘thought police’ and smothering debate on issues 

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.

A spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, confirmed that the 67-year-old had been banned ‘for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines,’ CNN reported. 

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.  

Robert F Kennedy Jr has been banned from Instagram for repeatedly sharing misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. Pictured: Kennedy speaks to a crowd that included coronavirus sceptics, conspiracy enthusiasts, right-wing extremists, religious conservatives, 'hippies' and others in Berlin in August

Robert F Kennedy Jr has been banned from Instagram for repeatedly sharing misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. Pictured: Kennedy speaks to a crowd that included coronavirus sceptics, conspiracy enthusiasts, right-wing extremists, religious conservatives, ‘hippies’ and others in Berlin in August

A spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, confirmed that Kennedy, 67, been banned 'for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines' CNN reported. There are no plans 'at this time' to ban Kennedy from Facebook [Stock photo]

A spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, confirmed that Kennedy, 67, been banned ‘for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines’ CNN reported. There are no plans ‘at this time’ to ban Kennedy from Facebook [Stock photo]

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 organisation, Children’s Health Defense, frequently shares misinformation around vaccines. It says it does not oppose vaccines but is dedicated to questioning their safety.

The group, which was originally named the World Mercury Project, promotes thoroughly debunked claims that mercury in vaccines can cause autism. 

At a public event in February 2017, Kennedy falsely 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.

Children’s Health Defense has also engaged in furthering the ‘great reset’ conspiracy theory which claims that ‘global elites’ will use the pandemic to advance their interests.

The group posted on its social media channels about the false theory, which warns that individuals including Bill Gates are seeking to pursue a globalist/Marxist plot to destroy US sovereignty and the personal freedoms of American citizens. 

Robert Kennedy Jr, the son of the former US Attorney General, US Senator and presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy, is a prominent anti-vaxxer who set up his own advocacy group in 2016. Pictured: Kennedy (center) with anti-vaxx protesters [File photo]

Robert Kennedy Jr, the son of the former US Attorney General, US Senator and presidential candidate Robert F Kennedy, is a prominent anti-vaxxer who set up his own advocacy group in 2016. Pictured: Kennedy (center) with anti-vaxx protesters [File photo]

Kennedy's organisation Children's Health Defense has engaged in furthering the 'great reset' conspiracy theory which claims that 'global elites' will use the pandemic to advance their interests. The group posted on its social media channels about the false theory, which warns that individuals including Bill Gates are seeking to pursue a globalist/Marxist plot to destroy US sovereignty and the personal freedoms of American citizens

Kennedy’s organisation Children’s Health Defense has engaged in furthering the ‘great reset’ conspiracy theory which claims that ‘global elites’ will use the pandemic to advance their interests. The group posted on its social media channels about the false theory, which warns that individuals including Bill Gates are seeking to pursue a globalist/Marxist plot to destroy US sovereignty and the personal freedoms of American citizens 

Last year, Children’s Health Defense filed a lawsuit against Facebook and three fact-checking companies, alleging they censored truthful public health posts and fraudulently 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. 

In May 2019 three of Kennedy’s siblings stated that he had ‘helped to spread dangerous misinformation over social media and is complicit in sowing distrust of the science behind vaccines.’ 

The comments from Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Joseph P Kennedy and Maeve Kennedy McKean came amid a surge in measles outbreaks in some parts of the United States due to vaccine hesitancy. 

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’.

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. He has insisted that he is not against vaccines, saying he is in favor of safe vaccines, and that his own children have been vaccinated. Pictured: A tweet shared by Kennedy in March 2019

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. He has insisted that he is not against vaccines, saying he is in favor of safe vaccines, and that his own children have been vaccinated. Pictured: A tweet shared by Kennedy in March 2019

The attorney is just the latest high-profile figure to be blocked by social media sites over false claims.

Following the siege of the Capitol building on January 6, then-President Donald Trump was banned from virtually all social media networks over accusations that he incited the rioters.

The accusations are the subject of a 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.

Trump lost the election to President Joe Biden by more than 7million votes, 4 1/2 percentage points and 74 Electoral College votes.

The coronavirus pandemic and US election have heaped pressure on social media sites to crack down on those who share false information. 

Facebook on Monday announced plans to better combat vaccine misinformation with steps including making it more difficult to find accounts that discourage vaccinations through Instagram searches.  

Despite such efforts, anti-vaxxer accounts remain active across social media networks. 

Advertisement