Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will no longer be a fixture on Instagram after the conspiracy theorist spread anti-COVID-19 vaccine rhetoric over social media.
Instagram announced this week that Kennedy’s account has been suspended after he spread misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines.
At the time of the ban, Kennedy, a former resident of Northern Westchester County, in Bedford, had more than 800,000 followers on the platform.
Kennedy had been active on social media stating that some COVID-19 vaccines have been untested and could cause serious health problems, despite a lack of evidence, leading to his Instagram ban. He also made claims that Bill Gates is using the vaccine as a ploy to ensure the world relies on technology.
Though he was suspended from Instagram, Kennedy’s Facebook and Twitter accounts are still active.
“We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines,” the company announced.
Children's Health Defense, the nonprofit group Kennedy chairs that also expresses skepticism about the health benefits of vaccines, told news outlets that could not immediately comment on Instagram's actions.
Kennedy has a lengthy history of speaking out among the anti-vaccine community, while promoting theories that childhood vaccinations are linked to autism and other disorders.
In 2019, Kennedy’s sister, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, his brother, Joseph P. Kennedy II, and his niece, Maeve Kennedy McKean, called him “complicit in sowing distrust of the science behind vaccines” in an essay that was published in Politico.
“These tragic numbers are caused by the growing fear and mistrust of vaccines — amplified by internet doomsayers. Robert F. Kennedy Jr.—Joe and Kathleen’s brother and Maeve’s uncle—is part of this campaign to attack the institutions committed to reducing the tragedy of preventable infectious diseases.
“He has helped to spread dangerous misinformation over social media and is complicit in sowing distrust of the science behind vaccines.”
The family noted that “his and others’ work against vaccines is having heartbreaking consequences.”
“The challenge for public health officials right now is that many people are more afraid of the vaccines than the diseases, because they've been lucky enough to have never seen the diseases and their devastating impact. But that’s not luck; it’s the result of concerted vaccination efforts over many years.”
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