Instagram Shuts Down One of the Most Prominent Anti-Vaccine Activists

The New York Times is reporting that social media company Instagram (owned by Facebook) has taken down Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s account due to posting anti-vaccine misinformation:

Instagram took down the account of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the political scion and prominent anti-vaccine activist, on Wednesday over false information related to the coronavirus.
“We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines,” Facebook, which owns Instagram, said in a statement.

They did not include Mr. Kennedy’s Facebook page, which was still active as of early Thursday and makes many of the same baseless claims to more than 300,000 followers. The company said it did not automatically disable accounts across its platforms and that there were no plans to take down Mr. Kennedy’s Facebook account “at this time.”

The New York Times, February 11, 2021

Other sources of anti-vaccine misinformation remain on Facebook and Instagram, though they are less prominent than the son of a former US Senator and member of the political dynasty that is the Kennedys. Mr. Kennedy (RFK Jr.) apparently brought on the banning when he began to aggressively push the conspiracy theory that Hank Aaron — a baseball hall of fame member — died as part of a “wave of suspicious deaths” after the COVID-19 vaccine. There is no such wave, and the medical examiner in the case of Mr. Aaron found no link to the vaccine. Mr. Aaron was 86 years of age and died weeks after getting the vaccine.

As you can see, Mr. Kennedy’s claims of being censored (or “cancelled”) from social media do not seem to apply to Facebook or Twitter, at this time.

Author: René F. Najera, DrPH

I am the editor of the History of Vaccines site, an online project by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. All opinions expressed on these blog posts are not necessarily those of the College or any of my employers. Check out my professional profile on LinkedIn: Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @EpiRen