Spotify Announces COVID-19 Advisory In Response To Joe Rogan Controversy

The streaming service published what it said are its long-standing rules for podcasters, following backlash over the chart-topping podcast.

Spotify announced Sunday that it will add content advisories to any podcast episode that discusses COVID-19 after musicians Joni Mitchell and Neil Young moved to take their music off the streaming service in protest of it hosting podcasts that spread misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic.

The audio company said this content advisory, which will be added in the coming days, will direct listeners to Spotify’s “COVID-19 hub,” where listeners will be able to access related information from “scientists, physicians, academics and public health authorities around the world, as well as links to trusted sources.”

This page, as of Sunday, features news from the BBC, Politico, CNN and ABC News.

Spotify did not clarify whether the advisory will air during podcast episodes, or merely appear on the show’s page or within episode descriptions.

The company also said it is making public its long-standing rules for podcasters. These rules include 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,” and specified COVID-19 in several instances.

Joe Rogan, whose podcast streams exclusively on Spotify, has been long criticized for spreading misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic on his program.
Joe Rogan, whose podcast streams exclusively on Spotify, has been long criticized for spreading misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic on his program.
Carmen Mandato via Getty Images

“We have had rules in place for many years but admittedly, we haven’t been transparent around the policies that guide our content more broadly,” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said in a statement Sunday.

Ek said the decision to publicly release its policies follows recent feedback that made it “clear to me that we have an obligation to do more to provide balance and access to widely-accepted information from the medical and scientific communities guiding us through this unprecedented time.”

Last week, Mitchell and Young declared that they will remove their music from the streaming service after Young first expressed his concerns about COVID-19 misinformation being shared on “The Joe Rogan Experience,” which airs exclusively on Spotify and consistently tops its podcast charts.

“I want you to let Spotify know immediately today that I want all of my music off their platform. They can have Rogan or Young. Not both,” Young said in an online statement that was later removed.

Mitchell, a few days after Young’s announcement, said she was also working to have her music removed from Spotify.

“Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives,” she said Friday in a message posted on her website. “I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue.”

Rogan’s podcast has repeatedly faced criticism for sharing misinformation about the pandemic and COVID vaccines. His interview last month with controversial infectious disease specialist Dr. Robert Malone, who has been censored on Twitter for spreading COVID-19 misinformation, drew particular outrage.

More than 250 doctors and scientists signed a letter to Spotify in response, blasting Rogan’s program and his interview with Malone. The experts said Rogan’s podcast has “a concerning history of broadcasting misinformation, particularly regarding the COVID-19 pandemic,” and that the misinformation shared by Malone about the virus makes “tens of millions of listeners vulnerable to predatory medical misinformation.”

“This is not only a scientific or medical concern; it is a sociological issue of devastating proportions and Spotify is responsible for allowing this activity to thrive on its platform,” states the letter, which Mitchell posted on her website.

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