N.Y. Senator Brad Hoylman Asks Twitter to Suspend Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for 'Vaccine Misinformation'

New York state Senator Brad Hoylman has called on Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to have the platform permanently suspend Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s account for "repeatedly spreading misinformation" about vaccines.

In a letter he addressed to Dorsey on April 6, Hoylman also requested that Kennedy's organization, the Children's Health Defense, a nonprofit with a mission to "end the childhood health epidemics," be permanently suspended for the same reason. In a press release, Hoylman cited multiple examples of Kennedy's and the CHD's Twitter accounts for allegedly violating Twitter's policies. Kennedy, an anti-vaccine activist, is a nephew of President John F. Kennedy and chairman of the CHD.

"We passed the First Amendment of the Constitution in this country specifically to prevent government officials from interfering with free speech, particularly speech that criticizes government policies. There is no pandemic exception," Kennedy told Newsweek. "The senator's request is un-democratic, un-American and unconstitutional."

In his press release, Hoylman said, "Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is attempting to dissuade Americans from getting vaccinated just as we fight new strains of variants that could lengthen the COVID-19 pandemic and kill countless more people. Could there be anything more irresponsible and reckless than spreading misinformation about life-saving vaccines during this pandemic?"

Hoylman has not yet received a reply from Dorsey or Twitter regarding his requests to have Kennedy's platforms permanently suspended, according to Aaron Ghitelman, a spokesman for Hoylman.

"I recommend that Senator Hoylman read the U.S. Constitution, which he took an oath to uphold," Kennedy said.

He continued, "I've never posted an inaccurate statement on Twitter. Every statement by CHD and myself are first rigorously fact checked and sourced to government databases or to peer-reviewed publications. The term 'vaccine misinformation' has nothing to do with accuracy, it's a euphemism for any statement that departs from government orthodoxy. Those are exactly the kinds of statements that the First Amendment was passed to protect."

In Hoylman's letter and press release, he acknowledged Twitter's strike system in regards to the platform's "COVID-19 misleading information policy," which states that if an account receives five or more strikes it will lead to a permanent suspension. He said the accounts for Kennedy and the CHD "have shared tweets that represent at least five strikes each."

For every tweet Hoylman cited, he detailed why the post violated Twitter's policy and the specific policy violation.

A Kennedy tweet from March 16, which Hoylman included in an appendix in his press release, shared an article on the CHD's website. The state senator wrote, "Quotes from the article are clear violations of Twitter's policy on COVID-19 Misinformation."

Virologist Geert Vanden Bossche has nothing against vaccines. In fact, he worked for Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance and Gates Foundation, but he says by vaccinating everyone with a vaccine that doesn’t prevent transmission, we are destroying... #TheDefenderhttps://t.co/mXWsTBHrYz

— Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@RobertKennedyJr) March 16, 2021

In his press release, Hoylman noted that Kennedy, whom he declared a "health menace," had his personal Instagram account recently removed by Facebook.

In February, Kennedy was banned from Instagram for misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines, according to the Associated Press. "This kind of censorship is counterproductive if our objective is a safe and effective vaccine supply," Kennedy told the AP.

Kennedy has more than 200,000 followers on Twitter, while the CHD has nearly 60,000. Both accounts are still active on Twitter.

New York State Senator Brad Hoylman
New York state Senator Brad Hoylman attends the opening of the Bank of America Winter Village at Manhattan's Bryant Park on November 5, 2020. Noam Galai/Getty Images