Robert F. Kennedy Jr. arrives in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York in 2017 for a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump.
Facebook and Instagram removed Robert Kennedy Jr’s anti-vaccine nonprofit Children’s Health Defense.
The group was spreading medical misinformation on the platforms.
Kennedy is a prominent anti-vaxxer and conspiracy theorist whose claims have been debunked.
Robert Kennedy Jr’s anti-vaccine group Children’s Health Defense was removed by Facebook and Instagram this week after an initial 30-day suspension. Meta, which owns the social platforms, said the group repeatedly violated the company’s medical-misinformation policies. In a newsletter email, the group called the decision a “clearly orchestrated attempt to stop the impact we have during a time of heightened criticism of our public health institutions.”Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Evan Vucci/AP Photo
Source: The New York Times
This isn’t the first time Children’s Health Defense, which Kennedy founded, has clashed with Meta. In 2020, it sued Facebook claiming the platform was censoring “valid and truthful speech.” It’s currently appealing a decision to dismiss the lawsuit.Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (C), greets people during an anti-lockdown protest in Berlin, Germany as Michael Ballweg (L), founder of the Querdenker movement, looks on, on August 29, 2020.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Sources: Vanity Fair and Deadline
Kennedy’s personal account was removed from Instagram last year, though his Facebook page (with more than 340,000 followers) and his Twitter account (with nearly 440,000 followers) are still active.
Source: New York Times
Kennedy, a former attorney for the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council and a nephew of President John F. Kennedy, has become the most prominent face of the anti-vaccine movement, which has launched countless claims and conspiracy theories that have been debunked.Robert F. Kennedy Jr. attends a “Green Our Vaccines” rally in 2008
His vaccine skepticism stretches back to 2005, when he published an article falsely claiming that the mercury-based preservative thimerosal was related to autism in children, which has been refuted by scientific organizations like the CDC.
Sources: Washington Post and Scientific American
Kennedy, the son of the assassinated U.S. attorney general, has doubled down on his anti-vaccine stance since, despite the medical community’s pushback. During his Air America radio program in 2011, he claimed that government scientists were covering up a “massive fraud.”
Rich Polk/Getty Images for Waterkeeper Alliance
Source: Washington Post
Last year, he published an open letter to President Biden on the Children’s Health Defense’s online newsletter The Defender, claiming that the COVID-19 vaccines “cause injuries and death” — a mischaracterization in that “injuries” were common side effects like headaches, and that “deaths” were largely unrelated.President Joe Biden, First Lady Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attend the 44th Kennedy Center Honors at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, on December 05, 2021.
Paul Morigi/Getty Images
Source: Vanity Fair
Also last year, Kennedy released an online film fueling distrust in the vaccines among communities of color, invoking past medical-related trauma. Scientists and experts have pushed back against its misleading statistics and imagery.Robert F. Kennedy Jr., speaks against legislation to narrow exemptions to state mandated vaccines during a rally at the state Capitol Tuesday, May 14, 2019, in Albany, N.Y.
AP Photo/Hans Pennink
Kennedy has repeatedly attacked the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, including last year in a book that made the baseless claim that Fauci and Bill Gates were profiting from COVID-19 vaccines. He’s also accused Fauci, without evidence, of having a financial stake in Moderna, a pharmaceutical company that developed one of the vaccines.Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, testifies during a US Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine Covid-19, focusing on an update on the federal response in Washington, DC, on September 23, 2020.
GRAEME JENNINGS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Source: New York Times and Newsweek
Earlier this year, Kennedy railed against vaccine mandates at a rally in Washington, saying that they will “make you a slave.” He also compared government efforts to mitigate the pandemic’s effects to the Holocaust, implying that the US now is worse: “Even in Hitler Germany, you could cross the Alps into Switzerland.”
Eric Vitale/Getty Images
Sources: New York Times and CNN
Kennedy’s anti-vaccine stance and rhetoric have alarmed his family. In January, after the rally, his sister Kerry tweeted that his “lies and fear-mongering yesterday were both sickening and destructive.”