Spotify announced on Sunday that it is publishing its content policy and that it will create a coronavirus information hub, which The Wall Street Journal reported came in response to backlash the company has faced from leftists over top podcast host Joe Rogan.
The announcement from Spotify’s CEO came after musician Neil Young complained about claims that Rogan had made on “The Joe Rogan Experience” about the pandemic, and had his music removed from the platform. A couple of other musicians also had their music pulled down over the issue.
“We have had rules in place for many years but admittedly, we haven’t been transparent around the policies that guide our content more broadly. This, in turn, led to questions around their application to serious issues including COVID-19,” CEO Daniel Ek wrote on Sunday. “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. These issues are incredibly complex.”
Ek highlighted the following moves that Spotify will take [emphasis original]:
Today we are publishing our long-standing Platform Rules. These policies were developed by our internal team in concert with a number of outside experts and are updated regularly to reflect the changing safety landscape. These are rules of the road to guide all of our creators—from those we work with exclusively to those whose work is shared across multiple platforms. You can now find them on our newsroom, and they’ll live permanently on the main Spotify website. They are being localized into various languages to help our users understand how Spotify assesses all content on our platform.
We are working to add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about COVID-19. 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. This new effort to combat misinformation will roll out to countries around the world in the coming days. To our knowledge, this content advisory is the first of its kind by a major podcast platform.
We will also begin testing ways to highlight our Platform Rules in our creator and publisher tools to raise awareness around what’s acceptable and help creators understand their accountability for the content they post on our platform. This is in addition to the terms that creators and publishers agree to governing their use of our services.
Democrat President Joe Biden’s administration has also pushed for social media companies to take action against Rogan as Surgeon General Vivek Murthy advocated for during an MSNBC appearance last week.
When asked about Rogan’s claims, Murthy said, “Now, when it comes to how we root out the misinformation in society right now, and give people access to accurate information, we’ve got to do several things. Number one, we’ve got to recognize that our technology platforms, particularly social media, these have an important role to play. These are the predominant places where we’re seeing misinformation spread.”
“These platforms have still not stepped up to do the right thing and do enough, I should say, to reduce the spread of misinformation,” he continued. “But each of us also has a role to play here because we all have platforms, and particularly if you’re somebody who has a large following, whether you’re an entertainer, a politician, in the media, it’s your responsibility, all of our responsibilities, to make sure that we are thoughtful in what we are sharing. This is not just about entertainment, it’s not just about garnering clicks. This is about people’s lives. And we have seen time and time again that misinformation costs people their lives.”
He concluded, “So, you know, we all have — this is not just about what government can do — this is about companies and individuals recognizing that the only way we get past misinformation is if we are careful about what we say and we use the power that we have to limit the spread of that misinformation. That’s going to be a critical part of how we get through this pandemic.”
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