Instagram on Wednesday took down the account of anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for sharing false claims about coronavirus, parent company Facebook said.
“We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.
Kennedy, the son of the late former US Attorney General, US senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, is a notorious opponent of childhood vaccinations, pushing discredited claims linking them to autism. He’s also spoken out against COVID-19 vaccines, linking baseball great Hank Aaron’s death to “a wave of suspicious deaths among elderly closely following” receiving COVID vaccines, even though the 86-year-old Hall of Famer died more than two weeks after receiving the vaccine.
The move comes just days after Facebook announced COVID-19 and vaccines as part of an effort to prevent the online lies from causing harm. Facebook’s policy, which covers posts on its photo-sharing service Instagram, prohibits claims that COVID-19 is human-made or manufactured. It also bans false statements about vaccines being ineffective at preventing the disease, vaccines being more dangerous than getting the disease, or vaccines being toxic, dangerous or causing autism.about
Facebook and other social networks have faced an onslaught of misinformation about the coronavirus since the pandemic started last year. The company has come under scrutiny, including from lawmakers and politicians who say Facebook isn’t doing enough to combat this problem.
Kennedy’s Instagram page had more than 800,000 followers before it was taken down. A video he reposted titled Planet Lockdown was banned by Facebook and YouTube for spreading misinformation about coronavirus, including already debunked claims that the vaccine preventing the virus may cause infertility and the shots contain microchips.
Facebook said it also removed at least eight other accounts for promoting misinformation about coronavirus, including pages with names such as virusesarenotcontagious and nofacemaks.
Kennedy’s Facebook page, which has more than 300,000 followers, remains live on the social network. A Facebook spokesperson said the company doesn’t “at this time” plan to ban his account on the social networking giant, explaining it doesn’t “automatically disable accounts across our app” because accounts may post different content.
Kennedy couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
CNET’s Queenie Wong contributed to this report.
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