Following the row over Joe Rogan’s anti-vaccination podcast, Spotify has announced that it will add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about Covid-19 and direct users to a portal dedicated to information on the coronavirus.
The audio streaming service faced much backlash after the American commentator uploaded an episode of his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, that promoted anti-vaccine views on December 31.
On January 10, 270 doctors, scientists and healthcare professionals signed an open letter that requested Spotify to deal with the spread of Covid-19 misinformation by Rogan, during his conversation with virologist Dr Robert Malone.
“With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, The Joe Rogan Experience, which is hosted exclusively on Spotify, is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence. Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy,” the letter read.
Subsequently, when the streaming service refused to remove the podcast, artists like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell took their music off the platform in protest.
Young was the first artist to call out Spotify and Rogan. “I want to let Spotify know immediately, today, that I want all my music off their platform. They can have Rogan or Young. Not both,” he said.
Mitchell followed suit and removed her music from Spotify as well. “Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives. I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue,” she said in a statement.
Several other artists and podcasters decided to boycott Spotify as well.
Harry and Meghan Markle, who had signed a deal with Spotify after their split from the British royal family, also voiced concerns about the consequences of Covid-19 misinformation on the platform.
In the wake of the controversy, Spotify’s stock took a hit and dropped by as much as 25%.
Following this, the company CEO Daniel Ek announced on Sunday that the platform will include an advisory on all Covid-19 related content. “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,” his statement read.
The advisory aims to combat misinformation and will be launched in countries around the world in the coming days, the statement added.
Subsequently, Rogan too pledged to “balance out the more controversial viewpoints with other people’s perspective so we can find a better point of view.” In a video posted on Instagram, on Monday, he added, “I don’t want to just show the contrary opinion to what the narrative it, I want to show all kinds of opinions.”
He also agreed with Spotify’s decision to add the disclaimer.