Instagram closes Kennedy family member’s account for anti-vaccine stances

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Instagram shut down the account of Robert F. Kennedy Jr, politician and anti-vaccine activist, nephew of the former US president, for spreading false information related to the coronavirus.

“We deleted this account for repeatedly sharing false allegations about the coronavirus or vaccines,” Facebook, the parent company of Instagram, said in a statement Thursday.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr, 67, is the son of former Justice Minister Robert F. Kennedy assassinated in 1968 after his brother, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, in 1963.

Lawyer, environmentalist, he is also known for his anti-vaccine positions which have gained audience with the COVID-19 pandemic and the development of new vaccines.

His Instagram account attracted 800,000 followers, according to the New York Times.

Last September, Robert Kennedy said on Instagram that a flu vaccine was more deadly than COVID-19. These claims, relayed by multiple other accounts, had already been officially denounced as erroneous by social media verification services.

Last month, the anti-vaccine activist claimed on Instagram and Facebook that baseball legend Hank Aaron, who died in his sleep at 86, had died from an injection of the Moderna vaccine two weeks earlier.

Facebook has recently significantly increased its efforts to counter false rumors spread by anti-vaccine groups.

The company has expanded its list of misconceptions that are not tolerated, and already prohibited in advertisements.

It includes messages stating that COVID-19 has been made by humans, that vaccines are not effective, that it is less dangerous to catch the disease than to be vaccinated, or that the vaccines are toxic or cause autism.

People who share this kind of disinformation could be banned from social networks, the Californian group warned.

For now, only the activist lawyer’s Instagram account is closed. His Facebook page, which has some 300,000 subscribers, was still functioning Thursday, shortly before 3:00 p.m. GMT.

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