Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Crazy Horse member Nils Lofgren have pulled their music from the platform after Young sparked a protest against the misinformation being spread about the virus on Joe Rogan’s Spotify podcast.
Now, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek has responded in an official statement that sets out the company’s plan to tackle the spread of misinformation on its site. The main proponent of that plan involves adding content advisories to every podcast episode that discusses coronavirus.
“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,” the statement said.
“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.”
Spotify’s platform rules – which tell creators what is and isn’t allowed to be published on the service – have also been made viewable by the public for the first time. Among them, users are told they cannot publish “content that promotes dangerous false or dangerous deceptive medical information that may cause offline harm or poses a direct threat to public health”.
Illustrating what that could include, the company uses the examples of calling COVID-19 “a hoax or not real” or “encouraging people to purposely get infected with COVID-19 in order to build immunity to it”. Should creators break those rules, their content could be removed from the platform, while repeat offenders could be suspended or permanently banned.
Earlier today (January 30), it was reported that Spotify had lost more than $2billion (£1.5b) in market value after Young removed his music from the site. “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,” Young had explained at the time. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
Other public figures have also weighed in on the debate, with Catherine Mayer – the widow of Gang Of Four‘s Andy Gill – criticising Spotify for platforming anti-vax sentiments. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, meanwhile, said in a new statement that they had expressed concerns about misinformation to Spotify last year. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have a multi-year partnership with Spotify through their company, Archewell Audio.
Earlier this month, hundreds of scientists and medical professionals asked Spotify to address COVID misinformation on its platform, sparked by comments made on The Joe Rogan Experience. More than 270 members of the science and medical community signed the open letter, which called Rogan’s actions “not only objectionable and offensive but also medically and culturally dangerous”.