Prominent anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has been permanently banned from Instagram. His account, which had about 800,000 followers, was removed "for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to Variety.
It is unclear what prompted the ban, but earlier this week Kennedy shared a controversial conspiracy video called "Planet Lockdown," which spreads false information about the pandemic, including claims that the coronavirus vaccine contains microchips and causes infertility. The video was banned from Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
Kennedy's Facebook page, which has more than 300,000 followers, remains active. The platform said it does not "at this time" plan to delete his account as different services allow users to post different content.
Kennedy is the son of former U.S. Attorney General and Senator Robert Kennedy.
According to the Center for Countering Digital Hate, Kennedy is one of the top spreaders of COVID-19 misinformation, The Wall Street Journal reported. The organization has criticized him for founding what it refers to as a leading anti-vaccine charity, Children's Health Defense, which regularly posts conspiracy theories on its website.
The ban comes days after Facebook announced it was ramping up its efforts to stop the spread of vaccine misinformation on its platforms. It launched a campaign last year to combat vaccine misinformation. In an announcement in December the platform said it would being removing false claims about vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts.
"This could include false claims about the safety, efficacy, ingredients or side effects of the vaccines," Facebook said in a statement.
"For example, we will remove false claims that COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips, or anything else that isn’t on the official vaccine ingredient list. We will also remove conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines that we know today are false: like specific populations are being used without their consent to test the vaccine’s safety," it contiuned.
"We will not be able to start enforcing these policies overnight. Since it’s early and facts about COVID-19 vaccines will continue to evolve, we will regularly update the claims we remove based on guidance from public health authorities as they learn more."
Zoe Papadakis is a Newsmax writer based in South Africa with two decades of experience specializing in media and entertainment. She has been in the news industry as a reporter, writer and editor for newspapers, magazine and websites.
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