Instagram bans Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for false claims about COVID-19

The move comes just days after Facebook announced a tougher stance on misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines.

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Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the nephew of President John F. Kennedy, has been banned from Instagram for making false statements about the coronavirus.

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Instagram on Wednesday took down the account of anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for sharing false claims about the coronavirus, parent company Facebook said.

"We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.

Kennedy, the son of the late former US attorney general, US senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, is a notorious opponent of childhood vaccinations, pushing discredited claims linking them to autism. He's also spoken out against COVID-19 vaccines, linking baseball great Hank Aaron's death to "a wave of suspicious deaths among elderly closely following" receiving COVID vaccines, even though the 86-year-old Hall of Famer died more than two weeks after receiving the vaccine.

The move comes just days after Facebook announced a tougher stance on misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines as part of an effort to prevent the online lies from causing harm. Facebook's policy, which covers posts on its photo-sharing service Instagram, prohibits claims that COVID-19 is human-made or manufactured. It also bans false statements about vaccines being ineffective at preventing the disease, vaccines being more dangerous than getting the disease, or vaccines being toxic, dangerous or causing autism.

Facebook and other social networks have faced an onslaught of misinformation about the coronavirus since the pandemic started last year. The company has come under scrutiny, including from lawmakers and politicians who say Facebook isn't doing enough to combat this problem.

See also: COVID-19 vaccine: Employer requirements, hidden costs, when you'll get vaccinated, more

Kennedy's Instagram page had more than 800,000 followers before it was taken down. A video he reposted titled Planet Lockdown was banned by Facebook and YouTube for spreading misinformation about coronavirus, including already debunked claims that the vaccine preventing the virus may cause infertility and that the shots contain microchips.

Facebook said it also removed at least eight other accounts for promoting misinformation about the coronavirus, including pages with names such as virusesarenotcontagious and nofacemasks.

Kennedy's Facebook page, which has more than 300,000 followers, remains live on the social network. A Facebook spokesperson said the company doesn't "at this time" plan to ban his account on the social networking giant, explaining it doesn't "automatically disable accounts across our app" because accounts may post different content.

Kennedy couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Watch this: How do I get the COVID-19 vaccine? Your questions answered

CNET's Queenie Wong contributed to this report.