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30 Jan, 2022 22:13

Spotify unveils new approach to Covid-19 content

CEO Daniel Ek announced changes to policy on 'combatting misinformation' regarding Covid-19 amid Joe Rogan criticism
Spotify unveils new approach to Covid-19 content

Spotify will start adding “content advisory” to any podcast episode that touches on Covid-19, directing users to “trusted sources” on the pandemic, such as information shared by public health authorities, as well as by "scientists" and "academics," CEO Daniel Ek announced on Sunday.

In addition, the service will make sure that creators “understand accountability” if they release content deemed in violation of the platform’s rules. The rules, which were made public on Sunday, describe as “dangerous" content that dismisses Covid-19 as “a hoax” and “promotes or suggests” that coronavirus vaccines “are designed to cause death.”

Promoting the concept of natural immunity as a substitute for vaccines – that is “encouraging people to purposely get infected with Covid-19 in order to build immunity to it” – has also made the blacklist. 

It’s not clear how exactly Spotify would punish individual violations, saying it would “keep context in mind” when unleashing sanctions. However, the rules stipulate that violation of Spotify's Covid-19 policies may result in the content that runs afoul of the rules being scrapped. “Repeated or egregious violations” may lead to permanent suspension.

In his statement on Sunday, Ek explained that what caused him to introduce the changes was “the feedback over the last several weeks,” apparently referring to the public criticism of Spotify’s number-one podcaster Joe Rogan, who is accused of spreading Covid-19 misinformation through his show.

"We’ve heard the criticism and we’re implementing changes to help combat misinformation," the CEO tweeted.

Earlier this week, Spotify seemingly sided with Rogan in a row between the podcaster and Canadian-American rock musician Neil Young, who gave the platform an ultimatum, vowing to remove his music if Rogan were allowed to stay. Spotify confirmed that it began taking down Young’s music on Wednesday, prompting the singer to accuse it of bad sound quality and proliferating “harmful information.” The exodus did not stop at that, with another music icon, Joni Mitchell, saying on Friday that she would also remove all her music from Spotify in solidarity with Young.

Hours before Spotify’s new Covid policy was unveiled, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle became arguably the most high-profile celebrities to insert themselves into the debate. In a statement released on Sunday through their US-based non-profit Archewell, the pair called on Spotify to step up its response to the misinformation, calling for “changes.”