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Spotify To Have COVID-19 Content Advisories In Wake Of Joe Rogan Backlash

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Rachael Funnell

Digital Content Producer

clockJan 31 2022, 12:23 UTC
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spotify rogan content advisory

The advisory hopes to tackle false information currently being presented in podcasts. Image credit: Chubo my-masterpiece / Shutterstock.com

An advisory “COVID-19 Hub” will tackle misinformation on Spotify, as the streaming platform introduces new measures in the wake of recent controversy. In early January, 270 experts called for action on the part of Spotify over "dangerous" misinformation that was being broadcasted on The Joe Rogan Experience. Since then musicians, including Neil Young and Joni Mitchel, have requested their music be removed from the streaming giant.

In an open letter to Spotify, the group of doctors, scientists, and medical and healthcare professionals asked the audio platform to take action against Rogan, who they said has a "concerning history" of broadcasting COVID-19 misinformation. It seems their voices were heard, as the platform now intends to introduce an advisory warning that redirects listeners to a COVID-19 Hub on any podcast that discusses the pandemic.

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“This advisory will direct listeners to our dedicated COVID-19 Hub, a resource 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,” said Daniel Ek, co-founder and CEO of Spotify, in a statement. “To our knowledge, this content advisory is the first of its kind by a major podcast platform.”

Neil Young was among those in dispute with the streaming platform over Rogan, accusing Spotify in a now-deleted letter on his website of profiting from misinformation about COVID-19. In a case of “either he goes, or I do,” Young, alongside Joni Mitchell, have departed the platform expressing their music could only remain if Rogan’s podcast series was deleted.

Evidently, Spotify chose Rogan, who has a $100 million exclusivity contract with Spotify and a reported 11 million listeners per episode, but the move to introduce content advisory warnings would appear to indicate that the platform isn’t thrilled with its recent press.

“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 said.

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“We take this seriously and will continue to partner with experts and invest heavily in our platform functionality and product capabilities for the benefit of creators and listeners alike. That doesn’t mean that we always get it right, but we are committed to learning, growing, and evolving.”

While some have leaped to Rogan’s defense as a bastion of free speech, a recent clip from his podcast would appear to show the medical experts were onto something when they accused him of representing false information. In the clip, an altercation between Rogan and Australian TV personality Josh Szeps sees the podcaster reference an increased risk of myocarditis post-vaccination, something that’s actually been repeatedly found to be significantly lower than the risk of myocarditis in COVID-19 patients.

Szeps made swift work of schooling Rogan in a clip shared to Twitter with the caption “We probably won't see Josh [Szeps] on Rogan's podcast for a while.”

Rogan has since spoken out about the controversy, expressing regret that Neil Young — someone he's a fan of — has felt the need to remove his music. "I’m very sorry that they feel that way, I most certainly don’t want that…" Rogan said in a video on Instagram posted today in which he pledged to "try harder" to get people with differing opinions on his show, and shared his support for the planned content advisories.

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"One of the things that Spotify wants to do that I agree with, is that at the beginning of these controversial podcasts, specifically ones about COVID, is to put a disclaimer and say that you should speak with your physician and that these people and the opinions they express are contrary to the consensus of experts, which I think is very important," he said.

When it comes to Rogan and COVID-19, it’s perhaps pertinent to remember the words of Bill Burr when appearing on the podcast. “I’m not gonna’ sit here with no medical degree, listening to you with no medical degree with an American flag behind you smoking a cigar, acting like we know what’s up better than the CDC.”


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