x
Breaking News
More () »

Atlanta's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Atlanta, Georgia | 11alive.com

RFK Jr. kicked off Instagram for vaccine misinformation

Kennedy, the son of Robert F. Kennedy, is a leading source of debunked claims about the safety of vaccines and has amassed a huge following on social media.

Instagram on Wednesday banned Robert F. Kennedy Jr., son of former presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, from repeatedly posting misinformation about vaccine safety and COVID-19.

Kennedy Jr. has amassed a huge following on social media, where he frequently posts debunked or unproven claims about vaccines. He also uses his social media pages to post about large pharmaceutical firms and environmental health concerns.

“We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines,” a spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said Thursday.

The Children’s Health Defense, an organization founded by Kennedy which focuses on vaccines, did not immediately respond to messages.

Most recently, Kennedy Jr. has posted misinformation about COVID vaccines. In a late January post, he described COVID vaccines that are currently being administered in the U.S. as posing a potential danger, despite studies on tens of thousands of people that found no serious side effects.

The suspension of Kennedy Jr.’s Instagram account comes just days after Facebook, which owns Instagram, announced it would step up efforts block the spread of vaccine misinformation, including claims that the shots are ineffective, toxic, dangerous or cause autism. Countries around the world are ramping up efforts to inoculate citizens with version of the COVID-19 vaccine.

RELATED: VERIFY: How to debunk prophetic videos and posts

RELATED: VERIFY: Yes, you should still get a vaccine if you've already had COVID-19

Still, Kennedy Jr.’s Facebook page, which has a following of more than 300,000 users, remained active as of Thursday morning. The company did not immediately respond to questions about Kennedy's Facebook account.

A Twitter account belonging to Kennedy Jr. also remains live, where he has more than 200,000 followers.

The controversial environmental lawyer has for years helped to popularize a debunked conspiracy theory that vaccines may cause autism, although repeated scientific studies in the U.S. and abroad have found no evidence linking vaccines to the developmental disorder.

Earlier this week Facebook announced it would ban ads on its platform that discourage vaccinations — with an exception carved out for ads about government vaccine policies. Unpaid posts by people or groups that discourage vaccinations will still be allowed.

Facebook has taken other steps to try to stop the spread of vaccine and coronavirus-related misinformation on its platform. Last year, it said it would begin hiding groups and pages that spread misinformation about vaccinations from the search function of its site.

Credit: Associated Press
Attorneys Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. arrives for a hearing challenging the constitutionality of the state legislature's repeal of the religious exemption to vaccination on behalf of New York state families who held lawful religious exemptions, during a rally outside the Albany County Courthouse Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

RELATED: CEO of social media app Parler says board fired him

RELATED: Twitter suspends more than 70,000 QAnon-related accounts