Daniel Ek responds to Neil Young’s Joe Rogan protest – but Spotify will not delete controversial podcast episodes

You may have just noticed over the last few days that Spotify has been under heavy fire from one or two cultural titans.

Neil Young and Joni Mitchell have both pulled their music off the platform in response to what they see as Spotify’s proliferation of “deadly misinformation” over Covid-19 vaccines.

Young’s actions were triggered by an open letter from hundreds of doctors, published on December 31, urging Spotify to delete vaccine-related misinformation from its service.

That letter particularly attacked an episode of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast in which Dr. Robert Malone made a number of controversial and highly controversial allegations about the Covid-19 vaccine.

“I first learned about this problem by reading that more than 200 physicians had joined forces and addressed the dangerous, life-threatening COVID forgeries found in Spotify programming,” Young wrote in a statement last week.

He added: “Most of the listeners who hear the unsubstantiated, misleading and false COVID information on Spotify are 24 years old, easily influenced and easily swayed to the wrong side of the truth. These young people believe that Spotify would never present grossly inaccurate information. Unfortunately, they are wrong. I knew I had to try to point it out. “

Spotify is said to have paid around $ 100 million to lock in a multi-year exclusive deal with the Joe Rogan podcast – a binding, as it announced in 2020.

Today (January 30), Spotify’s founder and CEO Daniel Ek published an open letter in response to the criticism his company has received over its hosting of content, which some say spreads dangerous lies about Covid-19.

The letter contains news of a few significant changes to Spotify’s content policy – but it stops for any mention of deleting episodes of the Joe Rogan Experience, including the show that included the interview with Dr. Malone.

Ek says he accepts that Spotify has “an obligation to do more to provide balance and access to widely accepted information from the medical and scientific communities that guide us through this unprecedented era”.

Among the remedies mentioned by Ek is a set of “lengthy platform rules” on Spotify for audio content, as well as the addition of Facebook / Twitter-like “content advice” added to any podcast that includes a discussion of Covid-19.

Read Daniel Ek’s new open letter (first published here) in its entirety below.

A decade ago, we created Spotify to enable creators around the world to be heard and enjoyed by listeners around the world. At our very core, we believe that listening is everything. Choose almost any topic and you will find people and opinions on both sides of it.

Personally, there are plenty of individuals and views on Spotify that I strongly disagree with. We know that we have a crucial role to play in supporting the creator’s expression while balancing it with the security of our users. In that role, it is important to me that we do not assume the position of content censor and at the same time make sure that there are rules in place and consequences for those who violate them.

You have had many 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’ve had rules in place for many years, but admittedly we have not been transparent about the policies that govern our content more broadly. This in turn led to questions about their application to serious problems, including COVID-19.

Based on feedback from the last many weeks, it has become clear to me that we have a commitment to do more to provide balance and access to widely accepted information from the medical and scientific communities that guide us through this unprecedented time. These questions are incredibly complex. We have heard from you – especially those from the medical and scientific community – and are taking the following steps:

  • Today we are publication of our long-standing platform rules. These policies have been developed by our in-house team in collaboration with a number of external experts and are regularly updated to reflect the changing security landscape. These are traffic rules that should guide all of our creators – from those we work exclusively with to those whose work is shared across multiple platforms. You can now find them on our newsroom and they will live permanently on Spotify’s main website. They are localized to different languages ​​to help our users understand how Spotify rates all content on our platform.
  • We are working on add a content ad to any podcast episode which includes a discussion of COVID-19. This guide will guide listeners to our dedicated COVID-19 Hub, a resource that provides easy access to data-driven facts, up-to-date information shared by scientists, doctors, 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. As far as we know, this content advice is the first of its kind of a great podcast platform.
  • We’re starting too test ways to highlight our platform rules in our creator and publisher tools to raise awareness about what is acceptable and help creators understand their responsibility for the content they post on our platform. This is in addition to the terms that creators and publishers agree on for their use of our services.

I want you to know that from the very first days of the pandemic, Spotify has been biased against action. We launched a range of educational resources and awareness-raising campaigns, and we developed and promoted a global COVID-19 Information Hub. We donated ad inventory to various vaccine awareness organizations, funds to the World Health Organization and COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) to increase vaccine equity and supported the Go Give One fundraising campaign. And we established a music aid project to support the creative community. While this is not a complete list, I hope it gives you a sense of how seriously we have approached the pandemic as a business.

I trust our policies, the research and expertise that underpin their development, and our ambition to apply them in a way that allows for broad debate and discussion within the lines. We take this seriously and will continue to work with experts and invest heavily in our platform functionality and product capacity for the benefit of both creators and listeners. This does not mean that we always get the right thing, but we are committed to learning, growing and evolving.

DanielMusic business worldwide

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