(NEXSTAR) – Following recent controversy, music streaming platform Spotify announced it will now add a content advisory to podcast episodes that include discussion of COVID-19. This comes after multiple musicians called for their music to be removed from Spotify over vaccine misinformation.
In a Sunday blog post, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek wrote, “There are plenty of individuals and views on Spotify that I disagree with strongly.” He explained that while the platform has had rules in place for years surrounding the content it shares, “we haven’t been transparent around the policies that guide our content more broadly.”
Ek said Spotify will now include a content advisory on any podcast episode that discusses COVID-19. The advisory will direct listers to Spotify’s COVID-19 Hub, which provides “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.”
Ek said the rollout of these advisories is expected in the coming days.
Last week, in an open letter on his website, Neil Young called for his music to be pulled from the platform, saying “Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them.” In the now-deleted letter, he went on to say Spotify could have “[Joe] Rogan or Young. Not both,” Rolling Stone reported.
Two days later, Spotify began removing Young’s music from its catalog.
Rogan’s podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” was the most-listened-to podcast in the U.S. and worldwide in 2021. On an episode last month, Rogan interviewed Dr. Robert Malone, an infectious disease specialist who has been banned from Twitter for spreading COVID misinformation.
On Friday, singer Joni Mitchell said she was looking to have her music removed from Spotify in solidarity with Young. The next day, Bruce Springsteen band member Nils Lofgren posted a message to Young’s website saying “27 years of my music [has been] taken off Spotify.” He added that he was hopeful labels owning his earlier music would remove it as well.
Ek continued in his blog post to say Spotify’s Platform Rules have also now been published to the streaming service’s website.
Among Spotify’s posted rules is one saying content promoting dangerous false or deceptive medical information that can cause offline harm or poses a direct threat to public health is not allowed. This, the rules explain, includes, but may not be limited to:
- asserting that AIDS, COVID-19, cancer or other serious life threatening diseases are a hoax or not real
- encouraging the consumption of bleach products to cure various illnesses and diseases
- promoting or suggesting that vaccines approved by local health authorities are designed to cause death
- encouraging people to purposely get infected with COVID-19 in order to build immunity to it (e.g. promoting or hosting “coronavirus parties”)
Those who break the rules could have their content removed from Spotify, while “repeated or egregious violations” could result in accounts being suspended or terminated.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.