Spotify announces plans to clamp down on Covid-19 misinformation

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek speaking at a conference
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek

Spotify says that it is working to add advisory warnings to any podcast on its platform that discusses Covid-19.

CEO Daniel Ek said that the new warning will redirect users to a data hub of coronavirus facts.

The move follows criticism of its work with Joe Rogan, a US podcast host who has interviewed vaccine-sceptics.

The platform also published existing rules which bar the streaming giant’s contributors from sharing false information that could cause harm.

In a statement posted to Spotify website, Mr Ek wrote that it has “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”.

Mr Ek said that the company had on Sunday published its long-standing “Platform Rules” – guidelines for creators on which contents is considered unacceptable. They were developed by the company in conjunction with a team of external experts and are updated regularly, the Swedish billionaire said.

The rules say that creators should avoid content that “promotes dangerous false or dangerous deceptive medical information that may cause offline harm or poses a direct threat to public health”. These include suggesting that Covid-19 or other diseases are not real and encouraging people to deliberately get infected with coronavirus in order to build immunity.

Content which breaks the rules could be removed, and repeated violations could lead to an account being taken down. In recent weeks the company has come under scrutiny over the views of its star host, Joe Rogan, who agreed a $100 million deal to move his popular podcast exclusively onto the platform in late 2020.

Mr Rogan has discouraged vaccination in young people and promoted the use of the unproven anti-parasitic drug ivermectin to treat the virus. This week, musicians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell led a procession of artists demanding that their music be removed from the platform.

Mr Young called the site “the home of life-threatening Covid-19 misinformation” in a post to his website on Wednesday. In early January, a group of doctors, scientists and healthcare professionals signed an open letter to Spotify citing Rogan’s “concerning history” in discussing the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Joe Rogan Experience is Spotify’s most popular podcast, with a reported 200 million downloads a month.

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