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 large following on social media, where he frequently makes debunked or unproven claims about vaccines. He also uses his social media pages to cover large pharmaceutical companies and environmental health issues.
“We removed this account because we repeatedly shared debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines,” a spokesman for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said Thursday.
Children’s Health Defense, a vaccine-focused organization founded by Kennedy, did not immediately respond to news.
Most recently, Kennedy Jr. posted misinformation about COVID vaccines. In a post in late January, he described COVID vaccines currently being administered in the U.S. as a potential hazard, despite studies on tens of thousands of people that found no serious side effects.
Kennedy Jr.’s Instagram account banned comes just days after Facebook, which owns Instagram, announced it was stepping up the spread of vaccine misinformation, including claims that the shots were ineffective, toxic, dangerous, or autistic. Countries around the world are stepping up efforts to vaccinate citizens with the version of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Still, Kennedy Jr.’s Facebook page, which has more than 300,000 users, remained active as of Thursday morning. The company didn’t immediately respond to questions about Kennedy’s Facebook account.
Kennedy Jr.’s Twitter account also remains active, where he has more than 200,000 followers.
The controversial environmental attorney has helped publicize an unmasked conspiracy theory that vaccines can cause autism for years, 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 that it would ban ads on its platform that prevent vaccinations – with the exception of ads for state vaccination guidelines. Unpaid contributions from individuals or groups advising against vaccinations are still allowed.
Facebook has taken further steps to stop the spread of vaccine and coronavirus-related misinformation on its platform. Last year it announced that it would begin hiding groups and sites spreading misinformation about vaccinations from its website’s search function.