Facebook and Instagram on Thursday removed the accounts of Children’s Health Defense, a corporation led by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that’s certainly one of the biggest U.S. anti-vaccine groups, for spreading medical misinformation.
In an emailed newsletter, Children’s Health Defense said Facebook and Instagram had taken down its accounts after a 30-day ban by the social networks. The nonprofit, which Mr. Kennedy has run since 2018, accused the apps of censorship.
“Removing CHD accounts is evidence of a clearly orchestrated try and stop the impact now we have during a time of heightened criticism of our public health institutions,” the group said.
In an announcement, Mr. Kennedy said, “Facebook is acting here as a surrogate for the Federal government’s crusade to silence all criticism of draconian government policies.”
Children’s Health Defense is widely thought to be a logo of the vaccine resistance movement. Last 12 months, the organization was named certainly one of the “Disinformation Dozen,” which refers back to the top 12 superspreaders of misinformation about Covid-19 on the web, in accordance with the Center for Countering Digital Hate.
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Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, said it removed the important accounts of Children’s Health Defense since the group had “repeatedly” violated the corporate’s policies on medical misinformation throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Children’s Health Defense said that in total, it had greater than half 1,000,000 followers on its important Facebook and Instagram pages.
Facebook’s and Instagram’s actions are a blow to Mr. Kennedy, who’s the son of the previous senator and U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. However the account removals don’t completely block him from speaking online. While Mr. Kennedy was personally barred from Instagram in February 2021, his personal Facebook page — with nearly 247,000 followers — remains to be up.
Other Facebook pages dedicated to Children’s Health Defense, including those of its California, Florida and Arizona chapters, also remain online and have hundreds of followers, in accordance with a review by The Latest York Times.
Over the course of the pandemic, Children’s Health Defense has repeatedly questioned the security of Covid-19 vaccines, falsely saying that the vaccines cause organ damage and harm pregnant women. The organization has also tried sowing doubt about other forms of vaccines. Over the past two months, it claimed that vaccines for tetanus caused infertility and that polio vaccines were answerable for a world rise in polio cases.
Meta has policies forbidding medical misinformation but has struggled with the right way to implement them. The corporate has had over a dozen discussions about removing the accounts of Children’s Health Defense from Facebook and Instagram over the past 12 months, said two individuals with knowledge of the conversations, who asked to stay anonymous because they weren’t authorized to talk publicly.
Last month, Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of worldwide affairs, wrote an open letter concerning the company’s medical misinformation policies. He said its strict policies about Covid-19 misinformation, which were put in place initially of the pandemic, might must be reconsidered as many parts of the world returned to normal.
Before the pandemic, Meta removed only posts that would “contribute to a risk of imminent physical harm,” Mr. Clegg said. Throughout the pandemic, the corporate broadened that to remove false claims about “masking, social distancing and the transmissibility of the virus.” Those latter measures may now not have to stay in place, he suggested.
He added that over 25 million pieces of content related to Covid-19 misinformation had been removed for the reason that start of the pandemic.
Misinformation experts have said that conspiracy theories and falsehoods about Covid-19 remain outstanding on Facebook and Instagram and have continued to draw attention.