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A hot potato: Spotify has responded to the growing issue of Covid-19/vaccine misinformation being broadcast in podcasts by adding a content advisory to any shows in which the topic is discussed. The controversy, which centers around the Joe Rogan Experience, has seen Neil Young and other artists pull their music from the platform.
The situation began last week when Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Young wrote an open letter promising to remove his music from Spotify if it didn’t drop the Joe Rogan Experience, which he accused of spreading vaccine misinformation. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both,” he said.
With his weekly audience of 11 million and having signed a $100 million exclusivity deal with the podcaster last year, Spotify chose Rogan and began removing Young’s music. Joni Mitchell on Friday said she stood in solidarity with Young and also wanted her music pulled, and guitarist Nils Lofgren said the same thing on Saturday. Without revealing why, best-selling author Brene Brown said she will not be releasing any more Spotify podcasts until further notice.
Rogan defended his podcast and apologized to Spotify for the situation in a near ten-minute Instagram video.
Spotify has now responded by making its Covid-19 content policy and general rules available for public viewing. Rules that explicitly mention Covid-19 prohibit assertations that it is a hoax or not real, and bar anything that encourages people to purposely get infected to build immunity. Spotify also doesn’t allow content that suggests vaccines “are designed to cause death.” The Verge writes that Joe Rogan’s podcast did not “meet the threshold for removal,” according to an internal Spotify memo.
The music streaming platform’s CEO, Daniel Ek, posted a message addressing the controversy on the company’s website. He wrote that while there are “plenty of individuals and views on Spotify that I disagree with strongly,” it is important that the platform doesn’t take on the position of being content censor “while also making sure that there are rules in place and consequences for those who violate them.”
Spotify is also adding a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about Covid-19. It will direct listeners to the company’s Covid-19 hub that provides information about the pandemic from public health experts, scientists, and physicians.