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24 May 2022

Spotify plans to add content advisories to podcasts discussing Covid after Neil Young exit

Spotify plans to add content advisories to podcasts discussing Covid after Neil Young exit

Spotify plans to add content advisories to podcasts discussing Covid after Neil Young exit

The streaming giant Spotify has responded to the mounting controversy surrounding it hosting a podcast which allegedly spreads misinformation about Covid.

On Sunday, the platform’s chief executive Daniel Ek issued a statement to say Spotify is working to add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about Covid-19.

Listeners who access content that talks about the virus would be directed to a dedicated website that “provides easy access to data-driven facts, up-to-date information as shared by scientists, physicians, academics and public health authorities around the world, as well as links to trusted sources”.

Mr Ek added: “This new effort to combat misinformation will roll out to countries around the world in the coming days. To our knowledge, this content advisory is the first of its kind by a major podcast platform.”

He added: “We know we have a critical role to play in supporting creator expression while balancing it with the safety of our users.

“In that role, it is important to me that we don’t take on the position of being content censor while also making sure that there are rules in place and consequences for those who violate them.”

Spotify’s rules for creators have also been made public for the first time, telling users that posting “dangerous content” which “promotes dangerous false or dangerous deceptive medical information that may cause offline harm or poses a direct threat to public health” is not permitted.

However, breaching these rules may not necessarily result in the “violative content being removed from Spotify”. 

Spotify currently hosts the controversial podcast The Joe Rogan Experience which sparked outrage for repeatedly spreading Covid conspiracy theories and for promoting the use of the drug Ivermectin to treat Covid symptoms – an anti-parasitic medicine used mainly on horses which has not been proven to be effective for treating coronavirus.

The streaming giant came under increased fire last week when musician Neil Young directed to have all of his music removed, citing Joe Rogan’s “false information about vaccines” as a reason.

Young said: “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.”

Fans of the 76-year-old singer have since pointed out that he suffered from polio as a child due to there being no vaccine at the time of his birth.

Following Young’s exit from Spotify, fellow musician Joni Mitchell followed suit, saying it was in “solidarity” with him. She wrote: “Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives. I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue.” 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are now also “expressing concerns” to Spotify about Covid-19 misinformation but say they will continue to work with the platform.

The couple signed a lucrative deal with the streaming giant to host and produce podcasts, estimated to be worth around 25 million US dollars (£18 million), in late 2020.

In a statement on Sunday, the couple’s charity Archewell said: “Hundreds of millions of people are affected by the serious harms of rampant mis- and disinformation every day.

“Last April, our co-founders began expressing concerns to our partners at Spotify about the all too real consequences of Covid-19 misinformation on its platform. 

“We have continued to express our concerns to Spotify to ensure changes to its platform are made to help address this public health crisis.”

Spotify acquired The Joe Rogan Experience podcast in 2020, reportedly for more than 100 million dollars (£77 million).

Stand-up comedian Rogan, 54, has previously attracted controversy for suggesting the young and healthy should not get vaccinated. 

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