Facebook has banned Australian celebrity chef and conspiracy theorist Pete Evans for repeatedly spreading misinformation about the coronavirus.
With more than a million social media followers, Evans has been an influential proponent of conspiracy theories about pandemics and vaccines.
Facebook said Thursday it would not allow anyone to share misinformation about Covid-19 that could lead to imminent physical harm, or falsehoods about Covid-19 vaccines.
“We have clear guidelines for this type of content and we have removed Chef Pete Evans’ Facebook page for repeated violations of these guidelines,” the company said in a statement.
However, the former chef’s page on Instagram – a Facebook-owned platform – with 278,000 followers is still active and has posts encouraging Sydney residents to defy health officials and not get tested for the virus.
Australia’s largest city is currently struggling to contain a group of 100+ cases that ended months of low community transmission.
Evans said on Instagram Thursday that he was happy to be “one of the catalysts of conversation” about free speech, describing the science surrounding the pandemic as “BS.”
Facebook previously banned some high profile accounts that spread misinformation and hate speech, particularly those of conspirator Alex Jones and far-right figure Milo Yiannopoulos.
Under heavy scrutiny and criticism that the platform is affecting public debate, Facebook has also announced a ban on accounts associated with the QAnon conspiracy group.
Evans was previously known for promoting pseudoscientific diet ideas – often linked to his own trading ventures – such as the Paleolithic Diet, and was nicknamed “Paleo” Pete.
Several companies recently dumped Evans and his books were dragged off the shelves after he posted a Nazi symbol “Black Sun” on social media.
Evans denies the trade in lies and denounces what he calls “fear-based propaganda”.
“The pandemic is a joke. It’s that simple,” he told AFP earlier this year, without providing any credible evidence.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)