Spotify has come under strong pressure from artists including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, who have asked for their music to be removed unless Joe Rogan’s podcast is removed, because they feel Rogan’s podcast is spreading misinformation about COVID-19.
Last week, musician Neil Young asked his management to remove his music from Spotify citing Rogan’s podcast as the reason: “I am doing this because Spotify is spreading false information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them … They can have Rogan or Young. Not both,” Young said.
Spotify removed Young’s music and said they regretted his decision and “hope to welcome him back soon”. As all of this happened, Spotify’s shares dropped 6%. They recovered slightly but then Joni Mitchell announced she would also remove her music from the platform. This created more fallout and so far, Spotify has lost more than US$2 billion in market value.
Mitchell posted on her website saying: “I’ve decided to remove all my music from Spotify. Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives. I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue.”
Spotify responds by directing listeners to other Covid-19 information
So far, Spotify hasn’t taking Joe Rogan’s podcast down but instead has added a message to the platform which directs listeners to other Covid-19 information. On Sunday, the CEO of Spotify, Daniel Ek, released an official statement outlining the platform’s plan to tackle misinformation. New content advisories will direct listeners of any podcast that discusses coronavirus to a dedicated website which “provides easy access to data-driven facts, up-to-date information as shared by scientists, physicians, academics and public health authorities around the world, as well as links to trusted sources”.
The statement made some of Spotify’s rules public for the first time, with users told they cannot publish “content that promotes dangerous false or dangerous deceptive medical information that may cause offline harm or poses a direct threat to public health”.
Examples of this include calling Covid “a hoax or not real” or “encouraging people to purposely get infected with Covid-19 in order to build immunity to it”. Users who break this rule could see their content removed from the platform and repeat offenders could be suspended or banned.
Ek continued in the statement saying that this content advisory information will roll out “around the world in the coming days.”
“To our knowledge, this content advisory is the first of its kind by a major podcast platform,” he added.
Who is Joe Rogan?
Joe Rogan is a comedian and host of The Joe Rogan Experience – the podcast which has sparked controversy for repeatedly spreading misinformation about Covid on his show, including the conspiracy theory that hospitals are financially incentivised to record Covid as cause of death. Rogan has also promoted the use of Ivermectin, an anti-parasitic treatment used mainly on animals, to treat Covid symptoms.
As of Sunday, Spotify has removed more than 20,000 episodes of podcasts which were related to Covid-19, in accordance with its “detailed content policies”.
Spotify acquired Joe Rogan’s show in 2020, in a deal worth more than $100m. The Joe Rogan Experience is now Spotify’s most popular podcast and one of the biggest in the world.
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