Spotify said it would add content advisory warnings to podcasts that discussed Covid-19 as the streaming service responded to a backlash against its popular podcaster Joe Rogan.
The company, however, has not removed the December 31 episode of Rogan’s podcast that has triggered the ire of hundreds of doctors and scientists as well as musicians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, who have pulled their music from Spotify in protest.
Rogan’s podcast, in which he hosted a virologist who is sceptical of mRNA coronavirus vaccines, did not meet the threshold for violating Spotify’s content rules, according to a company spokesperson.
“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”, chief executive Daniel Ek wrote in a blog post on Sunday.
Spotify is doing damage control after Young and Mitchell removed their music from its streaming service in protest at “lies” spread by Rogan. The company’s decision to keep the podcaster’s content spurred criticism online, where some social media accounts called for people to #DeleteSpotify.
Ek outlined the steps Spotify would take to address concerns that the platform was spreading false information regarding coronavirus. He said Spotify will add a content advisory to any podcast that discussed Covid-19, which will direct listeners to a new coronavirus hub that will provide facts and information as well as links to “trusted sources”.
Spotify also published its internal rules over the content on its platform.
In addition to regulations on hate speech or harassment, the code specifies violations could include “content that promotes dangerous false or dangerous deceptive medical information that may cause offline harm or poses a direct threat to public health”.
Spotify in 2020 paid more than $100m to bring Rogan’s podcast to its service exclusively as it wanted to broaden beyond music. Rogan has in the past invited guests to his podcast with controversial opinions on coronavirus and politics.
Rogan’s December guest, Robert Malone, who previously researched mRNA technology and is critical of its use in Covid-19 vaccines, has been banned from Twitter and YouTube for violating their misinformation policies. On his podcast, Rogan said he was “disturbed” that Malone had been “silenced”.
A group of doctors and scientists this month called on Spotify to “moderate misinformation” on its platform, arguing that false claims made on Rogan’s podcasts have “extraordinarily dangerous ramifications”.