Spotify CEO Speaks Out: Updates Policies On COVID Content But Refuses To Censor Joe Rogan

Spotify Technology SA SPOT CEO Daniel Ek acknowledged the percolating controversy surrounding the COVID-related content on Joe Rogan’s podcast by announcing new policies on programming related to COVID, but he stopped short of threatening to censor or cancel any program that would run afoul of the new guidelines.

What Happened: In a corporate blog posting, Ek admitted the company “had not been transparent around the policies that guide our content.” Ek carefully avoided mentioning Rogan by name in stating how these policies apply to programming with COVID-related content.

“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,” he wrote. “These issues are incredibly complex.”

Going forward, Ek continued, Spotify would publish its “long-standing Platform Rules” that were not previously made public. He added that the platform was “working to add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about COVID-19,” noting that Spotify was now “testing ways to highlight our Platform Rules in our creator and publisher tools to raise awareness around what’s acceptable and help creators understand their accountability for the content they post on our platform.”

Related Link: Harry And Meghan Join Celebrity Chorus Criticizing Spotify Over Joe Rogan's COVID Content

What Didn’t Happen: However, the blog posting conspicuously avoided a warning that episodes would be removed from the platform or content creators would be suspended or expelled.

Spotify found itself in the headlines last week when singer/songwriters Neil Young and Joni Mitchell asked for the removal of their music from the platform to protest the COVID-related content of “The Joe Rogan Experience,” which they stated was spreading medical misinformation.

Rumors began to spread on social media that iconic entertainers including Barry Manilow, Paul McCartney, Barbra Streisand, Willie Nelson and Bruce Springsteen would follow suit – Manilow denied the rumor and the other singers did not acknowledge the stories.

Earlier in the month, a coalition of 270 doctors, professors, scientists, health care professionals and science communicators published an open letter to Spotify faulting the broadcast of a Rogan podcast episode featuring Dr. Robert Malone, a critic of federal vaccination policies.

Rogan’s show also raised the ire of U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who publicly complained last week about the role of big tech companies in allowing the dissemination of what he considered to be medical untruths.

Without citing Spotify or Rogan specifically, Murthy warned, “This is about companies and individuals recognizing that the only way we get past misinformation is if we are careful about what we say and use the power that we have to limit the spread of misinformation.”

Photo from "The Joe Rogan Experience" YouTube page

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Posted In: NewsMediaCOVIDJoe RoganJoni MitchellNeil YoungpodcastingSpotify
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