Due to the dissemination of medically inaccurate material, both Facebook and Instagram suspended the accounts of Children’s Health Defense on Thursday. Children’s Health Defense is one of the leading anti-vaccine organisations in the United States and is managed by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
An email newsletter sent out by Children’s Health Defense said that the organization’s Facebook and Instagram profiles had been deleted after a ban imposed by the social networks for a period of thirty days. The nonprofit organisation that Mr. Kennedy has led since 2018 has levelled allegations of censorship against the applications.
“Removing CHD accounts is evidence of a clearly planned effort to limit the influence we have during a time of heightened criticism of our public health institutions,” the organisation said in a statement.
Mr. Kennedy issued a statement in which he said that “Facebook is acting here as a proxy for the Federal government’s effort to stifle any criticism of draconian government policies.”
There is a consensus among many people that Children’s Health Defense serves as a symbol for the vaccination resistance movement. According to the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the group was recognised as one of the “Disinformation Dozen” in 2017. This term refers to the top 12 superspreaders of false information about Covid-19 on the internet.
During the coronavirus epidemic, the corporation that owns Facebook and Instagram, Meta, said that it had deleted the primary accounts of Children’s Health Defense because the organisation had “repeatedly” broken the company’s policy on disseminating medically inaccurate material. According to Children’s Health Defense, the organization’s primary Facebook and Instagram sites together have more than a half a million people following them.
The steps taken by Facebook and Instagram are a setback for Mr. Kennedy, who is the son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, who served in the Senate and as Attorney General of the United States. However, the deactivation of his accounts does not totally prevent him from communicating online. In February of 2021, Mr. Kennedy was permanently banned from using Instagram, although his personal Facebook profile, which has approximately 247,000 followers, is still active.
Throughout the duration of the pandemic, Children’s Health Defense has continually cast doubt on the safety of immunizations against the Covid-19 virus, making unfounded claims such as that the vaccines are harmful to pregnant women and cause organ damage. Additionally, the group has attempted to plant seeds of doubt about many types of vaccinations. Over the course of the last two months, it has been alleged that vaccinations for tetanus induce infertility and that vaccines for polio are responsible for an increase in the number of cases of polio across the world.
Meta has regulations that prohibit spreading medically inaccurate material, but the company has struggled to figure out how to enforce those restrictions. According to two people who have knowledge of the conversations and who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorised to speak publicly about them, the company has had over a dozen discussions about removing the accounts of Children’s Health Defense from Facebook and Instagram over the course of the past year. Both of these social media platforms are owned by the company.
About a month ago, Nick Clegg, who is Meta’s president of worldwide affairs, sent an open letter in which he discussed the rules of the firm regarding medical disinformation. He said that the firm’s stringent procedures about the dissemination of false information on Covid-19, which were implemented at the beginning of the epidemic, would need to be reexamined now that many areas of the globe have returned to normal.
Before the outbreak, Mr. Clegg maintained that the only postings that were deleted from Meta were ones that may “add to a danger of immediate bodily damage.” During the time of the pandemic, the firm revised its statement to exclude any incorrect claims on “masking, social distance, and the transmissibility of the virus.” He stated that such additional safeguards may not be required to be maintained any longer.
He also said that from the beginning of the epidemic, almost 25 million pieces of material that were associated with false information on Covid-19 have been deleted.
According to specialists on disinformation, conspiracy theories and misinformation around Covid-19 continue to be widely disseminated on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, where they continue to get attention.