Spotify announced earlier this week that they will be adding a content advisory to podcasts that discuss COVID-19. This is following a controversial podcast release by Joe Rogan. For those unfamiliar, Joe Rogan is a popular comedian and UFC champion. In his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, he held a conversation with Dr. Robert Malone. Dr. Malone is a vaccine skeptic, who made several baseless claims regarding COVID vaccines.
Rogan also happens to have an exclusive licensing deal with Spotify worth over $100 million as of December 2021. Thus, Spotify seemingly took a neutral stance on the controversial podcast. Spotify's inaction caused alarm among the medical and music community. Thousands of doctors, scientists and other health professionals wrote a petiton to the audio streaming company. This also resulted in Spotify removing singer-songwriter Neil Young's recordings, after he posed an ultimatum.
According to Rolling Stone, Young posted a letter which was later deleted, "I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them." He continued with an ultimatum stating, "They can have Rogan or Young. Not both."
On Monday, Daniel Ek, CEO of Spotify, made a statement, "It is important to me that we don't take on the position of being content censor while also making sure that there are rules in place and consequences for those who violate them."
Rogan also made a statement on Monday, saying that he is not trying to promote misinformation. He has also promised to invite other viewpoints.
As of Wednesday, David Crosby, Stephen Stills & Graham Nash issued a joint statement stating that they support Neil's position and disapprove of knowingly spreading misinformation during a pandemic. Several others have followed in their lead, including Roxanne Gray who removed her own podcast from spotify. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle also made headlines as they expressed 'concerns' about the controversy.
This does spark the question about how misinformation is spread throughout media platforms. Several media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have dealt with similar issues in the past. Each media company has handled these situations in different ways. As the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility, and these companies which have millions or even billions of users may have to work harder to prevent spread of misinformation.
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