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Spotify is facing its Facebook moment as musicians boycott platform over Joe Rogan podcast

Musicians boycott Spotify over Joe Rogan podcast

February 01, 2022: Spotify has found itself in hot water over concerns that its famous podcast star Joe Rogan spreads coronavirus misinformation in a controversy that echoes the crises Facebook and other social media giants face in recent years.

The music streaming platform is being boycotted by legendary musicians like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, slamming its decision to continue hosting Rogan’s popular podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience.”

Rogan is sparking controversy with accusations that he is repeatedly spreading conspiracy theories regarding Covid-19 and promoting the use of ivermectin to treat coronavirus symptoms, despite warnings that there’s no proof it can be effective at treating Covid.

In December, 270 science and health professionals wrote an open letter accusing Spotify of enabling Covid misinformation and calling for the company introducing measures to address false or misleading claims about the virus.

On Saturday, Nils Lofgren, guitarist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, joined the chorus of musicians pulling their music from Spotify over the Rogan controversy.

On Sunday, Spotify said it would add disclaimers to any podcast episodes that include discussion regarding Covid and direct users to public health sites for more information. CEO Daniel Ek said the platform didn’t want to “take on the position of being content censor” but would ensure consequences for creators who break its rules.

Rogan himself responded to the controversy late on Sunday. In an Instagram post, he is criticizing news outlets for creating a “distorted perception of what I do” and defended his decision to interview Dr. Robert Malone, an infectious disease specialist. The latter was banned from Twitter for spreading Covid misinformation.

He then apologized to Spotify, Young, and Mitchell, pledging to “do my best to try to balance out these more controversial viewpoints with other people’s perspectives.”

The debacle parallels the scandals that have plagued Facebook and other tech giants over the years.

Facebook, now named Meta, faced mass boycotts from major advertisers in 2020 over criticisms that it wasn’t doing enough to tackle hate speech. And a data-sharing scandal in 2018 resulted in hundreds of thousands of users who shared the hashtag #deletefacebook in protest of the social networking site.

Although, YouTube dealt with an advertiser boycott of its own in 2017 when a flood of brands pulled advertising from the Google-owned video-sharing site more than concerns about hateful and offensive content.

Spotify has mostly eluded criticisms over its content moderation policies. But its push into podcasts, and support of Rogan, has now placed it firmly in the firing line.

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