Twitter owner Elon Musk invited Democrat presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for a discussion on his Twitter Spaces after Kennedy said his campaign was suspended by Meta-owned Instagram.
“Interesting… when we use our TeamKennedy email address to set up @instagram accounts we get an automatic 180-day ban. Can anyone guess why that’s happening?” he wrote on Twitter. An accompanying image shows that Instagram said it “suspended” his “Team Kennedy” account and that there “are 180 days remaining to disagree” with the company’s decision.
In response to his post, Musk wrote: “Would you like to do a Spaces discussion with me next week?” Kennedy agreed, saying he would do it Monday at 2 p.m. ET.
Hours later, Kennedy wrote that Instagram “still hasn’t reinstated my account, which was banned years ago with more than 900k followers.” He argued that “to silence a major political candidate is profoundly undemocratic.”
“Social media is the modern equivalent of the town square,” the candidate, who is the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, wrote. “How can democracy function if only some candidates have access to it?”
— Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@RobertKennedyJr) June 2, 2023
It’s not the first time that either Facebook or Instagram has taken action against Kennedy. In 2021, Instagram banned him from posting claims about vaccine safety and COVID-19.
After he was banned by the platform, Kennedy said that his Instagram posts raised legitimate concerns about vaccines and were backed by research. His account was banned just days after Facebook and Instagram announced they would block the spread of what they described as misinformation about vaccines, including research saying the shots cause autism, are dangerous, or are ineffective.
“This kind of censorship is counterproductive if our objective is a safe and effective vaccine supply,” he said at the time.
Kennedy, the son of former presidential candidate and Sen. Robert Kennedy, has for years helped to popularize the assertion that vaccines are linked to autism. Kennedy’s Children’s Health Defense, before it was also banned on Facebook and Instagram in 2022, claimed that tetanus vaccines can cause infertility and that polio vaccines are actually responsible for a rise in polio cases worldwide.
However, critics of Big Tech monopolies have said social media companies should not be the arbiters of what can and cannot be posted, saying that some content moderation policies around “misinformation” is tantamount to censorship.
That criticism reached a boiling point in early 2021 after former President Donald Trump was banned on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other Big Tech sites before his accounts were mostly reinstated. A number of other prominent conservatives and individuals who questioned mainstream narratives were also banned in 2021 and 2022.
Because of the widespread bans that were handed down, some alternative social media websites like Trump’s Truth Social, video platform Rumble, Gettr, and others were created. When Musk bought Twitter late last year, he moved to reinstate a number of prominent conservative accounts, including Trump’s page, although the former president hasn’t yet used it and currently posts on Truth Social.
Censored for ’18 Years’
During his 2024 presidential announcement, Kennedy said that he’s been censored “for 18 years,” likely due to his claims about vaccines. “They shouldn’t have shut me up that long,” he said, adding that he’s really going to “let loose on them for the next 18 months.”
In an interview with CNN days later, Kennedy was asked about who censored him and why. He responded by saying that at least a dozen Democrat attorney generals recently had contacted social media sites to “censor me” and said that there is now “clear evidence” via the Twitter Files reporting that White House officials colluded with Big Tech to suppress his accounts.
“It’s because I was dissenting from government policies,” he said.
Since announcing his 2024 ambitions in April, Kennedy has been able to consistently generate headlines. About a month ago, he proclaimed in news interviews that the believes the CIA was involved in the 1963 assassination of former President Kennedy, and last week, he called for Biden to release more classified materials about JFK’s death.
Polls have shown that Kennedy is trailing behind President Joe Biden, but he told Fox News in New Hampshire that he believes he has a chance. A recent survey released this week by Fox News shows that Kennedy has 16 percent support among Democrats, while Biden took 62 percent. Fellow Democrat challenger Marianne Williamson has about 8 percent.
“The public polls speak for themselves,” Kennedy said on Thursday while campaigning in the state.He said that internal polling is “even better” and that “we’re going to get a lot of independents and Republican crossovers
He added, “I think we’re doing very well, much better than expected.”