Anti-vax group founded by Robert F Kennedy Jr sues Facebook claiming it violated its constitutional rights by ‘suppressing vaccine safety speech’ after fact-checkers flagged multiple posts as false or misinformation
- Children’s Health Defense filed a lawsuit against Facebook in California Monday
- The nonprofit – founded by Robert F Kennedy Jr – accused the social media company of violating its constitutional rights
- Lawsuit claims Facebook censored multiple posts advocating against vaccines
- It also alleges fact-checkers damaged its reputation as a ‘public health advocate’ to the risks of vaccines and 5G and wireless networks
Published: | Updated:
An anti-vaccine organization founded by Robert F Kennedy Jr has accused Facebook of censorship after its fact-checking program flagged multiple posts containing ‘misinformation’ about vaccinations.
In a lawsuit filed in a California federal court on Monday, the Children’s Health Defense claimed the social media company violated its First and Fifth Amendment rights by actively ‘suppressing vaccine safety speech’ online.
The non-profit group, which regularly posts anti-vaccine propaganda to its 122,830 followers, claimed it was wrongfully targeted after Facebook implemented a new algorithm to track and censor misinformation in February 2019.
At the time, CEO Mark Zuckerberg had come under pressure by U.S. lawmakers who threatened to remove the tech company’s immunity unless it imposed measures to curb the spread of false content and ads.
Robert F Kennedy Jr filed a lawsuit against Facebook on Monday accusing it of censoring posts published on anti-vaccine organization Children’s Health Defense’s page
The lawsuit cited multiple posts that were flagged as false or misleading by Facebook’s fact-checkers
The CHD claimed Facebook then teamed up with the CDC and the WHO to consistently censor its posts by tagging them with a ‘warning label’ or other notices indicating disinformation.
But in reality, the lawsuit claims, fact-checkers censored ‘valid and truthful speech, including speech critical of those agencies and their policies.’
The CHD also argued the fact-checking practice has damaged its reputation as a public health advocate ‘to both the risks of environmental toxins, vaccines, 5G and wireless networks, and the conflicts of interest in government oversight of those products and services.’
‘This case arises in a pandemic when the need for public debate on health issues has never been greater,’ the lawsuit states.
The complaint cited multiple social media posts that were blocked or flagged by Facebook’s Politifact program for containing ‘partly false information’ or false headlines.
In June, CHD published an article on its page claiming infants death rates had significantly declined during the pandemic due to the reduced use of vaccines.
A post shared on April 16 was flagged for containing a ‘false headline’ that claimed the flu vaccine made people more susceptible to coronavirus
Fact-checkers later tagged the post with a warning label stating the article contained misleading information.
Another post shared in April 2020 was flagged after citing a study in the journal Collective-Evolution.com that claimed there was a ‘significantly’ greater risk of contracting coronavirus among individuals who received the flu shot.
‘Facebook and Politfact fraudulently misrepresented to all third-party users that the post was “False Information Checked by independent fact-checkers”,’ the suit states.
‘Indeed, the very name “Politifact” suggests that the putative “fact-checking” here is more political than scientific.’
CHD also argued it has been unfairly targeted by the company, highlighting Facebook’s ‘exemption’ for climate change deniers, whose views are considered ‘opinion’ – adding that its posts should also be viewed as such.
‘By using Facebook’s pre-populated options to mislabel [CHD’s] articles and videos, Science Feedback and Facebook intentionally tell the public that [CHD] is presenting false information, when they know that the information presented is, at most, opinion and not false fact,’ the suit states.
In a written statement accompanying the company’s press release on the lawsuit, Kennedy Jr accused the government of trying to silence its critics.
‘This is an important First Amendment case testing the boundaries of government authority to openly censor unwanted critiques of government policies and pharmaceutical and telecom products on privately owned internet platforms,’ he said.
CHD was founded by RFK Jr, 66, the son of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, in 2016.
Kennedy Jr has received criticism over the years from people who claim he has helped spread misinformation on vaccines.
CHD was founded by RFK Jr, 66, the son of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, in 2016