Doctors, health experts and scientists fight COVID-19 misinformation on a daily basis. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have adopted policies in an effort to curb rampant false claims, but some have no rules in place. A group of 270 doctors, nurses, scientists and educators sent an open letter to Spotify after a recent episode of THE Joe Rogan’s Experience, urging the streaming service to adopt a clear policy and fulfill its “responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation.”
On the December 31 episode of his podcast, Joe Rogan interviewed Dr. Robert Malone, a virologist who claims to be one of the originators of mRNA technology. That’s it clear if this is true. During the chat, Malone made unsubstantiated claims about COVID-19, including the idea that “mass formation psychosis” led people to believe vaccines were effective and the notion that President Biden had withheld data that supported ivermectin as a valid treatment. The episode quickly went viral among critics and fans alike, as Rogan averages over 10 million listeners per episode. YouTube removed an interview video and Malone was recently banned from twitter for violations of the platform’s COVID-19 misinformation policy.
“By allowing the spread of false and socially harmful claims, Spotify is allowing its hosted media to undermine public trust in scientific research and sow doubts in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals.” the letter explains. “[The episode] is not the only transgression to occur on the Spotify platform, but a relevant example of the platform’s failure to mitigate the damage it is causing.”
In April, Verge informed that Spotify was fine with an episode of Rogan in which he encouraged 21-year-olds not to get vaccinated. A company source indicated that the message was not “externally anti-vaccine” and he did not “make a call to action”. the one on the edge Ashley Carman wrote at the time. Spotify took down more explicit examples of vaccine misinformation, including a song by musician Ian Brown and a podcast by Pete Evans. The company has said in the past that it “prohibits content on the platform that promotes false, misleading or misleading dangerous content about COVID-19 that could cause harm offline and/or pose a direct threat to public health.” And that when something violates these guidelines, it is removed.
However, as this open letter points out, Spotify does not have an official disinformation policy like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others. The group is asking the platform to do just that, rather than taking direct action against Rogan or removing the episode in question. They want the company to create rules that hold podcast creators accountable for the content of their shows.
Spotify paid $100 million to block Joe Rogan’s Experience as an exclusive podcast in 2020. The show was the most popular on the platform in 2021, both in the US and worldwide. When Rogan faced criticism over his choice of guests, including another example of pandemic disinformation in an episode featuring Alex Jones, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said the platform had no editorial responsibility for podcasts.
“We have a lot of very well-paid rappers on Spotify as well, who make tens of millions of dollars, if not more, every year from Spotify.” Ek said to Axios. “And we also don’t dictate what they’re putting into their music.”
Spotify did not respond to Ploonge’s request for comment on the company’s open letter and disinformation policies.
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