When Spotify began removing Neil Young’s playlist from its service, it defended its practices against misinformation and said it had already taken down more than 20,000 COVID-related podcast episodes. Young has threatened to remove his catalog from the service over allegations that Joe Rogan is spreading misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine through his podcast. Despite what Spotify said, Joe Rogan’s Experience is still available on the platform, and Spotify’s COVID content policy (as seen by On the edge) may be able to explain why this is the case.
Apparently, even Spotify employees are upset about the company’s partnership with Rogan due to his views on COVID-19. The company’s head of global communications, Dustee Jenkins, addressed these concerns on Spotify’s Slack and told employees that a team had already reviewed several controversial issues. Joe Rogan’s Experience episodes and found that they “have not reached the threshold for removal”. She called the team members that did the internal review “some of the best experts in the field” and also said that Spotify is working with third parties to help it evolve its policies. “What Spotify hasn’t done is move fast enough to share these policies externally and is working to resolve this as quickly as possible,” she added.
While Spotify has not yet shared these policies, On the edge published a copy of the health guidelines section, which prohibits:
“Content that promotes dangerous false or misleading health content that may cause harm offline and/or pose a direct threat to public health, such as:
Denying the existence of AIDS or COVID-19
Encouraging the deliberate contraction of a serious or life-threatening illness or disease
Suggesting that consumption of bleach can cure various diseases and ailments
Suggesting that wearing a mask will cause imminent and life-threatening physical harm to the wearer
Promoting or suggesting that vaccines are designed to cause death.”
There are many podcasters who can get away with such a narrow and limited set of rules. In comparison, YouTube make it clear that any content with claims that contradict local health authorities or the WHO is prohibited on its website. Not only are the suggestions that wearing a mask will cause prohibited harm to the Google-owned service, but also the claims that masking does not help prevent the contraction or transmission of COVID-19. A podcast host on Spotify can say the latter without repercussions. Spotify also doesn’t have a rule banning claims that ivermectin is a safe and effective treatment for the virus.
In December, a group of scientists and doctors sent a open letter to Spotify, asking to implement a policy of disinformation after Rogan invited Dr. Robert Malone on his show. In the controversial episode, Malone claimed that people only believe that COVID-19 vaccines are effective due to “mass-forming psychosis”. The group also listed several “misleading and false claims” Rogan made on his podcast during the pandemic, including the moment he said mRNA vaccines are “gene therapy” and another when he promoted the use of ivermectin to treat cancer. COVID-19.
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