Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Instagram account has been deleted for what the company said was a violation of its policies around coronavirus and vaccines.
Kennedy, who is a vocal vaccination skeptic, as well as a big critic of three letter agencies, had 800,000 followers on Facebook-owned Instagram; his Facebook page remains up for the time being.
This wasn’t one of the usual bans that go with bot-generated messages and silence from giant platforms – a spokesperson for Instagram addressed the decision, probably due to the high profile of the latest victim of its censorship.
Kennedy is an environmental lawyer and activist, the son of Robert F. Kennedy and the nephew of President John F. Kennedy. The spokesperson said that his Instagram account was deleted “for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines.”
Kennedy is accused in reports as falsely attributing the death of baseball player Hank Aaron to receiving the coronavirus vaccine, and saying that there has been an increasing number of “suspicious deaths” among the elderly who got vaccinated against the virus.
However, Kennedy has also said in the past that he is not opposed to immunization – if vaccines are proven to be safe.
Another spokesperson, this time for Facebook, said that Kennedy’s account there would not be automatically removed after his Instagram account was gone, because “users may post different things on different platforms.” However, Kennedy, who has 300,000 followers there, appears to be posting content in the same vein as what he was publishing on Instagram.
Facebook recently updated its policy around censoring content and banning users over what it sees as Covid or vaccine misinformation, announcing it would be removing user posts and paid ads found in violation of these rules.
The company also said that eight other Instagram and Facebook accounts had been deleted on Wednesday for the same reason as Kennedy’s.
Kennedy is known for his activism around vaccination, and in August 2019, together with civil rights lawyers, challenged the New York state’s legislation that banned all non-medical exceptions to vaccination of school children.
Kennedy at the time argued in court that the law – which banned children who had not been vaccinated with an immunization cocktail against a number of diseases from attending class – was an assault on constitutional rights and the US Bill of Rights.