Science Podcast Limits Episodes To Only Fact-Checking COVID-19 Misinformation On Spotify

"Spotify's support of Joe Rogan's podcast has felt like a slap in the face," the creators of "Science Vs" wrote in an email to the streaming service's CEO.

The creators of a major science podcast have announced that they will only produce episodes “intended to counteract misinformation being spread on Spotify,” making them the latest public figures to respond to the platform’s inaction toward podcast host Joe Rogan and his continued spread of COVID-19 disinformation.

Wendy Zukerman and Blythe Terrell sent an email to Spotify CEO Daniel Ek on Wednesday stating that they won’t make new episodes of their podcast, “Science Vs,” until the streaming platform implements stronger strategies to combat misinformation. They will make an exception for episodes that fact-check other Spotify podcasts.

“Throughout the pandemic, Spotify has given ‘Science Vs’ the resources we needed to produce accurate content about the coronavirus. For more than six months, we’ve been encouraging our listeners to move to Spotify and telling them that this is the company that supports us to create factual episodes that are grounded in science,” the creators wrote. “Spotify’s support of Joe Rogan’s podcast has felt like a slap in the face.”

“Science Vs” takes a myth-busting approach to controversial topics that can be debunked with research and science. Zukerman is the podcast’s host and executive producer, and Terrell is the show’s editor.

The upcoming episode of “Science Vs” will fact-check an interview Rogan conducted with Dr. Robert Malone about vaccines. Rogan did not include scientific evidence that contradicts some of the vaccine-related claims made in the interview, leaving “the audience with a skewed and inaccurate view of the Covid-19 vaccines,” Zukerman and Terrell said in their email.

“We understand that moderating content across a large platform can be difficult, but we think Spotify has a responsibility to do more,” they wrote. “Our next step will be looking into the effectiveness of various strategies that tech platforms are using to combat misinformation, and we’re happy to discuss our findings with you.”

Spotify did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

The streaming giant announced on Sunday that it will add a content advisory to any podcast episode that discusses COVID-19. The advisory will direct listeners to Spotify’s “COVID-19 hub,” where users can access information about the virus from “scientists, physicians, academics and public health authorities around the world, as well as links to trusted sources.”

Spotify also said that it’s publishing its existing rules for podcasters, including a ban on content that “promotes dangerous false or dangerous deceptive medical information that may cause offline harm or poses a direct threat to public health,” specifying COVID-19 in multiple instances.

Zukerman and Terrell said this does not go far enough.

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki brought up Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s advisory from July 2021. At the time, Murthy highlighted the risk of public health misinformation, and the role social media platforms have in combating it.

“Our hope is that all major tech platforms — and all major news sources, for that matter — be responsible and be vigilant to ensure the American people have access to accurate information on something as significant as COVID-19. And that certainly includes Spotify,” Psaki told reporters.

“So this disclaimer — it’s a positive step. But we want every platform to continue doing more to call out mis- and disinformation while also uplifting accurate information,” she added, before citing research about the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines to prevent serious illness or death.

The move from “Science Vs” came on the same day that David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash announced their plan to join former bandmate Neil Young in removing their music from Spotify over its support of Rogan. Joni Mitchell has also pulled her music from the platform.

Last month, 270 doctors and scientists published a joint letter to Spotify calling out Rogan’s pandemic misinformation, including discouraging young people from getting vaccinated, falsely stating that mRNA vaccines are “gene therapy,” and promoting ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment.

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