Image Credit: Spotify

As the growing controversy saw Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and other artists to remove their music, Spotify and Joe Rogan finally respond.

In the past few months Spotify’s exclusive Joe Rogan Experience podcast has seen guests hosted with controversial views, including Dr. Peter McCullough and Dr. Robert Malone. Malone’s episode in particular lead to the removal of the episode from YouTube for violating community guidelines and an open letter from doctors, nurses, scientists and educators asking Spotify to moderate misinformation on the platform. In the past week, this growing controversy lead to Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and some other artists to remove their music from the streaming service. Through all of this, Spotify have remained quiet, with many praising them for their stance on free speech, while other criticise the platform for not removing episodes or placing disclaimers on episodes with COVID-19 misinformation.

Yesterday, Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek published a piece titled “Spotify’s Platform Rules and Approach to COVID-19”. Although not directly referencing Rogan or Young, Ek talks about the rules in place and until now, the lack of transparency around policies. The CEO goes on to explain steps they are taking from now, including posting their Platform Rules, that will now be highlighted in creator and publishing tools, as well as adding content advisories to podcasts with discussion of COVID-19, directing listener’s to their COVID-19 Hub, with up-to-date information from trusted sources. These advisories are similar to actions we’ve seen other social media platforms make for posts referencing COVID-19.

Joe Rogan recently posted an almost ten-minute video to his Instagram feed. First off, Rogan talks about how the controversial statements made by the two guests are opinions of their own that differ from the mainstream, the term “misinformation”, his stance as a host (not a doctor/scientist), and some of the various guests he’s hosted since the start of the pandemic. Rogan agrees to Spotify’s move to place disclaimers at the beginning of episodes with controversial figures, plus talks of improvements that he can make going forward, such as having experts with differing opinions on right after controversial episodes and researching topics before discussing them with guests.

It’s great to see Spotify finally start to respond to some of the public outcry of the past few months. We hope these changes will be swiftly implemented and make a meaningful impact.