Spotify said Sunday that it will add content advisories before podcasts discussing the coronavirus. The move follows protests of the music-streaming service that were kicked off by Young over the spread of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. (AP Photo)
NPR | By ANASTASIA TSIOULCAS
Originally published January 31, 2022 at 10:38 AM ET
Spotify has become the latest battleground regarding misinformation about COVID-19. Sunday evening, the streaming service’s most popular podcast host, Joe Rogan, addressed criticisms of his episodes that have discussed the coronavirus pandemic. He also addressed comments to Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, who have both asked the platform to remove their work in protest of Rogan’s podcast.
Rogan’s response came via a nearly 10-minute video published to Instagram. His comments took a few different turns. He argued that he was not spreading misinformation, that some people have a “distorted perception” of what it is he does and that what he does is merely sharing “opinions.”
“I do not know if they’re right,” Rogan said. “I’m not a doctor. I’m not a scientist. I’m just a person who sits down and talks to people and has conversations with them. Do I get things wrong? Absolutely. I get things wrong. But I try to correct them. … I’m interested in telling the truth. I’m interested in finding out what the truth is.”
Rogan added that he supports Spotify’s decision to put a label on what he says are “controversial” podcasts.
That’s not what Spotify has said it intends to do, however. In a news release issued Sunday, Daniel Ek, the CEO of Spotify, said that his company will introduce a content advisory to any podcast episode that discusses COVID-19, whether the podcast has interviews with internationally recognized public health experts or disseminates potential misinformation.
Ek said that the new advisory will direct Spotify listeners to a dedicated coronavirus hub with links to “trusted sources.”
Ek has said repeatedly that he prioritizes making sure the creators who use the Spotify platform maintain creative freedom. In this new statement, though, Ek also said, “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.”
In Rogan’s Instagram video Sunday, the popular podcast host said that he views this as a time to present more experts — and maybe do a little more research about his guests and what they were saying.
“Maybe try harder to get people with differing opinions on right afterwards — I do think that’s important,” Rogan said. “And do my best to make sure I’ve researched these topics, the controversial ones in particular, and have all the pertinent facts at hand before I discuss them.”
Rumors were flying around social media over the weekend that a number of notable older artists have followed the example of Neil Young and Joni Mitchell and have asked to pull their music from Spotify, but that’s not accurate as of now.
The other prominent musician who has asked for his music to be removed from Spotify is guitarist Nils Lofgren, a longtime member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and the Crazy Horse band with Neil Young. In a statement posted to Young’s website on Saturday, Lofgren accused Spotify of “promoting lies and misinformation that are hurting and killing people.”
Editor’s note: Spotify is one of the funders of NPR and the network’s programs are available on the streaming service.