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Spotify to add content advisory to COVID podcasts

January 31, 2022

Spotify will roll out a content advisory to COVID-related podcasts, directing listeners to scientific resources about the pandemic. The streaming giant has been under pressure to tackle COVID falsehoods on the platform.

Spotify logo on a smartphone
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said they would establish clear platform rules for creators should they dispute violationsImage: Fabian Sommer/dpa/picture alliance

Spotify will add a content advisory to podcasts about the coronavirus pandemic, Daniel Ek, the CEO of the streaming giant, said on Sunday.

The advisory will lead people to a "dedicated COVID-19 Hub" that provides easy access to up-to-date scientific information on the pandemic, Ek said in a statement.

The new rules, set to take effect in coming days, are in response to controversy over Spotify's decision to stream popular podcaster and vaccine skeptic Joe Rogan's episodes and remove Neil Young's music after the musician asked the platform to choose between them.

Joe Rogan, who has a massive following and a multimillion dollar contract with the company,  stirred controversy with his views on the pandemic, government mandates, and vaccines to curb the spread of the virus.

Rogan interviewed Robert Malone, an infectious disease specialist, last month. Malone has been banned from Twitter for spreading COVID misinformation.

Around 270 scientists and medical professionals signed a letter earlier this month urging Spotify to take action against Rogan, accusing him of spreading falsehoods on the podcast.

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What did Spotify say?

Spotify's CEO said there were "plenty of individuals and views" on the platform that he strongly disagreed with but it was important to him that the platform didn't "take the position of being content censor."

Ek said it was important at the same time to make sure there were "rules in place and consequences for those who violate" content policies.

The fact-based COVID-19 hub will provide quick and easy information as "shared by scientists, physicians, academic and public health authorities in the world, as well as links to trusted sources," Ek added.

Ek did not mention any specific persons involved in the controversy. He mentioned that the "new effort to combat misinformation" would roll out in the next few days.

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Stars voice concerns over COVID misinformation

The UK's Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan on Sunday expressed their concern to Spotify over COVID-19 misinformation but remained committed to continue working with the company, a spokesperson for their Archewell Foundation said.

Other musicians like Nils Lofgren, the Bruce Springsteen guitarist and member of Crazy Horse, a frequent collaborator with Young, also joined the protest earlier Sunday, encouraging other artists and music lovers "to stand" with them and "cut ties with Spotify."

Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell joined Young earlier in this week, saying she was pulling her music from the platform because of "lies" about COVID-19.

Spotify had previously said it removed more than 20,000 podcast episodes related to coronavirus, in keeping with its "detailed content policies."

rm/wd (AP, AFP)