Spotify announces change to podcasts after Rogan controversy

(NEXSTAR) – Following recent controversy, music streaming platform Spotify has announced that it will now add a content advisory to podcast episodes that include discussion of COVID-19. It comes after several musicians called for their music to be removed from Spotify due to misinformation about vaccines.

In a blog post on Sunday, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek wrote, “There are many individuals and opinions on Spotify that I strongly disagree with. He explained that while the platform has had rules in place for years around the content it shares, “we haven’t been transparent about the policies that guide our content more broadly.”

Ek said Spotify will now include a content advisory on any podcast episode discussing COVID-19. The notice will direct advertisers to Spotify’s COVID-19 hub, which provides “data-driven facts, up-to-date information shared by scientists, doctors, academics and public health authorities around the world, as well as only links to reliable sources”. ”

Elk said the rollout of these advisories is expected in the coming days.

Last week, in an open letter on his website, Neil Young called for his music to be removed from the platform, stating that “Spotify spreads false information about vaccines – potentially causing the death of those who believe misinformation is spread by them”. In the now-deleted letter, he went on to say that Spotify could have “[Joe] Rogan or Young. Not both,” Rolling Stone reported.

Two days later, Spotify began removing Young’s music from its catalog.

Rogan’s podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” was the most-listened to podcast in the United States and globally in 2021. During an episode last month, Rogan interviewed Dr. Robert Malone, a disease specialist who was banned from Twitter for spreading COVID misinformation.

On Friday, singer Joni Mitchell said she was seeking to have her music removed from Spotify in solidarity with Young. The following day, Bruce Springsteen member Nils Lofgren posted a message on Young’s website saying “27 years of my music [has been] deleted Spotify. He added that he hoped labels owning his earlier music would remove it as well.

Ek went on to say in his blog post that Spotify’s platform rules were also posted on the streaming service’s website.

Among the rules published by Spotify is one that says content promoting dangerous false or misleading medical information that may cause offline harm or pose a direct threat to public health is not allowed. This, the rules explain, includes, but is not limited to:

  • claiming that AIDS, COVID-19, cancer or other serious life-threatening illnesses are a hoax or not real
  • encouraging the consumption of bleach-based products to cure various diseases and ailments
  • promote or suggest that vaccines approved by local health authorities are designed to cause death
  • encouraging people to deliberately become infected with COVID-19 in order to boost their immunity (for example, by promoting or hosting “coronavirus parties”)

Those who break the rules could have their content removed from Spotify, while “repeated or gross violations” could result in accounts being suspended or terminated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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