The CEO of digital music, podcast and video platform Spotify, Daniel Ek, declared on Sunday, Jan. 30, that subscribers will now receive warnings concerning any content posted to the platform about COVID-19 in light of criticism surrounding Joe Rogan’s podcast, which has been accused of spreading misinformation.
The warnings come after Neil Young asked for his catalog of music to be removed from Spotify in protest of Rogan’s content. The move has also inspired others to withdraw their content.
In his statement, Ek said that it is Spotify’s responsibility to “find a balance between supporting their content creators and protecting the safety of listeners – without playing censor,” Deadline reported.
“Based on the feedback over the last several weeks, it’s become 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,” Ek wrote.
Spotify’s rules and warnings will direct subscribers and listeners of podcasts discussing the pandemic to sources deemed “reliable” and the platform promises to provide more accurate and updated information provided by people experienced in relevant fields.
The rules also ban users from publishing misleading or deceptive information that may threaten public health, including calling COVID-19 a “hoax” or inspiring people to intentionally get infected to build immunity. Those who break the rules could have their content removed, with repeat offenders facing a suspension or an outright ban.
Joe Rogan, comedian and host of The Joe Rogan Experience, has been accused of spreading misinformation about the pandemic on his show. Among the content some are saying is misinformation include claims that hospitals are financially incentivised to list COVID-19 as a cause of death and that ivermectin, a widely prescribed antiparasitic drug found to have antiviral properties, is effective in combating the disease.
In response to the controversial podcast, musician Neil Young decided last week to have his music removed from Spotify.
“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 later expressed regret over Young’s decision, and shared their hopes for his return. Following Young’s departure, shares in the streaming platform plummeted six percentage points over two days.
After a slight recovery in share price, musician Joni Mitchell also said that Spotify should remove her music from the platform.
“Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives,” Mitchell wrote, adding, “I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue.”
Having signed a podcast partnership with Spotify for their company, Archewell Audio, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle also shared their concerns about misinformation to Spotify last year, saying, “We have continued to express our concerns to Spotify to ensure changes to its platform are made to help address this public health crisis. We look to Spotify to meet this moment and are committed to continuing our work together as it does,” a spokesperson for the couple said.
As of Sunday, Jan. 30, Spotify has lost more than two billion dollars in market value and had 20,000 pieces of COVID-19-related content removed as a result of its “detailed content policies.”
Rogan reportedly has a $100-million deal to have his podcast licensed to Spotify.