Spotify is adding a message that will direct listeners to correct Covid-19 information as controversy over misinformation shared on comedian Joe Rogan’s podcast continues to grow, with the streamer losing billions in market value and more musicians withdrawing their music.
On Sunday, the chief executive of Spotify, Daniel Ek, released an official statement setting out the streaming platform’s plan to tackle misinformation. New content advisories will direct listeners of any podcast that discusses coronavirus to a dedicated website 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”.
Spotify’s rules for its creators have also been made public for the first time, with users told they cannot publish “content that promotes dangerous, false or dangerous, deceptive medical information that may cause offline harm or poses a direct threat to public health”.
Examples include calling Covid “a hoax or not real” or “encouraging people to purposely get infected with Covid-19 in order to build immunity to it”. Users who break the rule could see their content removed from the platform and repeat offenders could be suspended or banned.
“You’ve had a lot of questions over the last few days about our platform policies and the lines we have drawn between what is acceptable and what is not. 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,” Mr Ek’s statement said.
Mr Ek wrote that the content advisories will roll out “around the world in the coming days”.
“To our knowledge, this content advisory is the first of its kind by a major podcast platform,” he added.
Mr Rogan, host of The Joe Rogan Experience, has sparked controversy for repeatedly spreading misinformation about Covid on his show, including the conspiracy theory that hospitals are financially incentivised to record Covid as a cause of death. He has also promoted the use of ivermectin, an anti-parasitic treatment used mainly on animals, to treat Covid symptoms. It has not been proved to be effective at preventing or treating Covid.
Last week, musician Neil Young asked his management to remove his music from Spotify, citing misinformation on Mr Rogan’s podcast: “I am doing this because Spotify is spreading false information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them. They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
After removing his music, Spotify said it regretted “Neil’s decision – but hope to welcome him back soon”. Their shares dropped 6 per cent over two days, then recovered slightly – before musician Joni Mitchell announced she would also remove her music from the platform.
“Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives,” Ms Mitchell wrote. “I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue.”
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who signed a multi-year podcast partnership with Spotify for their company, Archewell Audio, said in a statement that they had expressed concerns about misinformation to Spotify last year.
“We have continued to express our concerns to Spotify to ensure changes to its platform are made to help address this public health crisis. We look to Spotify to meet this moment and are committed to continuing our work together as it does,” a spokesperson for the couple said.
As of Sunday, Spotify had lost more than $2 billio