Meta on Wednesday took down the Facebook page and Instagram account for Children’s Health Defense, an anti-vaccination organization headed by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., due to what it referred to as repeated violations of its COVID-19 policy.
A Meta spokesperson told The Hill that the page was taken down for “repeatedly violating our policies.”
The spokesperson specifically cited Meta’s COVID-19 and vaccine policies, which prohibit content that may encourage people infected with COVID-19 to attend in-person events, interfere with the administration of coronavirus vaccines and encourage people to not get vaccinated against the virus.
In a statement provided by Children’s Health Defense, Kennedy said, “Facebook is acting here as a surrogate for the Federal government’s crusade to silence all criticism of draconian government policies. Our constitutional framers recognized this peril of government censorship.”
“We don’t need the First Amendment to protect popular or government approved speech. They incorporated the First Amendment specifically to protect free expression of dissenting opinions. They understood that a government that can silence its critics has license for every atrocity,” he added.
The Children’s Health Defense Facebook page mostly shared articles generated by the organization itself, many of which were on topics such as chemicals within household products and their possible effects on human health; the pharmaceutical industry; and pieces critical of pandemic mitigation methods.
One post shared on the page claimed that masks were ineffective at slowing the spread of COVID-19 and speculated that they could in fact increase a person’s chances of becoming infected, though the secondary study that was cited in the post did not provide evidence of how this could occur and the author acknowledged that proving this theory “may be very difficult.”
The organization bills itself as being dedicated to “exposing the fraud and corruption within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the pharmaceutical industry.” Since the start of the pandemic, the organization’s online following has grown exponentially, with more than 127,000 followers on Twitter along with the nearly half a million followers that Kennedy has on his own account.
Children’s Health Defense has been criticized for cherry-picking data and pushing conspiracy theories to sow distrust in vaccines. It has also frequently pushed the unproven theory that vaccines can cause autism.
Misinformation watchdog NewsGuard has previously stated that Children’s Health Defense “published false information that contradicts broad scientific consensus and research on the safety of vaccines.”