Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. got the boot from Instagram on Wednesday, forcing his 800,000 followers to find another source for their covid-19 conspiracy theories.
In a statement, Facebook, which owns Instagram, said that Kennedy’s account was removed “for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines.” Facebook recently vowed to take tougher action against bogus claims that vaccinations—including covid-19 vaccinations—are unsafe or ineffective. (Kennedy’s Facebook page is still active).
Kennedy, son of late Senator Robert F. Kennedy, has long touted anti-vax rhetoric. He claims he supports vaccines as long as they’re safe, but that hasn’t stopped him from insisting that childhood vaccines cause autism (they don’t), lobbying against legislation that requires more oversight of childhood vaccine exemptions (with actor Jessica Biel’s help), and claiming that the covid-19 vaccine causes severe allergic reactions and is linked to several deaths. USA Today reports that Kennedy insisted that baseball hall of famer Hank Aaron died following complications from the covid-19 vaccine; 86-year-old Aaron died on January 22 after suffering a stroke, weeks after receiving a dose of the covid-19 vaccine.
There is no connection between the two incidents, but try telling that to an anti-vaxxer.
Kennedy is an environmental lawyer whose dedication to environmental justice and activism is laudatory. Unfortunately, his legacy is dead in a ditch. In 2017, former President Trump, a loud and proud vaccine skeptic, asked Kennedy if he would chair a commission on vaccine safety, a move that perfectly illustrates the types of reactionaries Kennedy attracts. In 2019, members of his family, including a brother and sister, wrote an article for Politico disavowing his opposition to vaccines, and his niece wrote an op-ed for the New York Times in December 2020 titled “Vaccines Are Safe, No Matter What Robert Kennedy Jr. Says.”
Maybe Kennedy will now be able to spend less time spreading bullshit on Instagram and more time listening to his family.