Spotify finally responds to Joe Rogan controversy with a plan to label podcasts that discuss COVID-19

Spotify now adds content advisories on COVID-19 to podcast episodes discussing COVID-19 after criticizing the platform’s handling of the controversial content in the Joe Rogan Experience. The advice leads to: Spotify’s COVID-19 Hubcontaining credible and up-to-date information about the pandemic.

To increase transparency around handling the issue, Spotify is making its COVID-19 content policy and general platform rules that are publicly available on its site. Spotify says anyone who breaks the rules can have the content in question removed, with repeat offenders potentially having their account suspended or banned. Custom Hour obtained this policy ahead of the platform’s public release, and an internal memo revealed that Joe Rogan’s podcast “didn’t meet the threshold for removal.”

According to the policy, Spotify bans content that claims “AIDS, COVID-19, cancer or other serious life-threatening illnesses are either fraud or not real.” The platform also bans content that encourages people to “deliberately become infected with COVID-19 to build immunity” and does not allow content that suggests vaccines are “designed to cause death.” However, compared to the document posted internally and reviewed by Custom Hour, the wording of the examples has been changed and one line is completely missing. It specifically shouted “Suggests that wearing a mask will cause immediate, life-threatening physical harm to the wearer.”

There has been a lot of talk about information about COVID-19 on Spotify. We have heard the criticism and we are making changes to combat misinformation.

— Daniel Ek (@eldsjal) January 30, 2022

“You’ve had a lot of questions over the past few days about our platform policies and the lines we’ve drawn between what’s acceptable and what isn’t,” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said in a blog post. “We’ve had rules for many years, but admittedly we haven’t been transparent about the policies that govern our content more generally… Based on the feedback from the past few weeks, it’s become clear to me that we have a commitment to more to provide balance and access to widely accepted information from the medical and scientific communities leading us through this unprecedented time.”

Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Nils Lofgren have all had their music removed from the platform in protest at Rogan’s podcast, where he has suggested, among other things, that healthy young people do not need the COVID-19 vaccine. Popular podcaster Brené Brown also says she will be taking a break from adding new episodes to her Spotify exclusive shows, though it’s unclear if the controversy surrounding Rogan was the cause.

Spotify Platform Rules – Dangerous Content Policy

Content that promotes dangerous false or dangerously misleading medical information that may cause offline harm or pose a direct threat to public health includes, but is not limited to:

claim that AIDS, COVID-19, cancer or other serious life-threatening diseases are a hoax or not real

encouraging the consumption of bleaching agents to cure various diseases and conditions;

promote or suggest that vaccines approved by local health authorities are designed to cause death

encouraging people to deliberately become infected with COVID-19 in order to build immunity to it (for example, promoting or hosting “coronavirus parties”)


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