Critics Fault Facebook Move on RFK Jr.'s Group: 'Too Late'

Children's Health Defense anti-vax nonprofit also booted off Instagram
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2022 12:15 PM CDT
Facebook Suspends RFK Jr.'s Anti-Vaccine Group
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks outside the Albany County Courthouse on Aug. 14, 2019, in Albany, NY.   (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has already been personally kicked off of Instagram. Now the social media platform—along with Facebook, also owned by Meta—has booted Kennedy's nonprofit, too, for repeatedly breaching rules on spreading misinformation about COVID-19, vaccines, and other pandemic health measures. The two platforms this week suspended the accounts for Children's Health Defense, described by the AP as "one of the most influential anti-vaccine organizations active on social media." "We removed these accounts for repeatedly violating our policies," a Meta spokesperson confirmed to the news agency, which notes that such suspensions usually only come after there've been multiple violations.

Per Vice, CHD said Thursday in an email newsletter that its accounts had been shuttered as of Wednesday. It included screenshots showing the notifications it received from Meta, which stated that the nonprofit violated guidelines on "misinformation that could cause physical harm." While some are celebrating the move, others are miffed at Meta for taking so long to act, which they say exacerbated the spread of COVID misinformation. "Today's step is too late and too little," Karen Kornbluh, head of the Digital Innovation and Democracy Initiative at the German Marshall Fund, tells the AP, noting that CHD's account is still active on Twitter.

CHD said in a statement that it had hundreds of thousands of followers before it was kicked off the social media platforms. RFK Jr. has denied he's against vaccines and says he merely wants them to undergo comprehensive testing and be safe, which Vice notes they "very, very much are." Per Deadline, Kennedy was deemed one of the "Disinformation Dozen" in a report last year by the Center for Countering Digital Hate nonprofit. "Facebook is acting here as a surrogate for the federal government's crusade to silence all criticism of draconian government policies," Kennedy said in a statement, per the AP. His personal account still remains active on Facebook. (His IG account was nixed last year.)

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