Following the voicing of concerns about coronavirus misinformation by high-profile figures including the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, Spotify has announced regulations against the broadcast of ‘dangerous’ or ‘deceptive’ content on the platform.
A spokesperson for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Archewell organization confirmed that the couple had expressed ‘concerns to our partners’ at Spotify last April, raising the issue of ‘the all too real consequences of Covid-19 misinformation on its platform’. He said Archewell continued to voice ‘concerns to Spotify to ensure changes to its platform are made to help address this public health crisis’, adding: ‘We look to Spotify to meet this moment and are committed to continuing our work together.’
After concerns escalated in recent weeks, Daniel Ek, Spotify’s billionaire co-founder and CEO, has now confirmed that changes are being implemented on the platform. In a Tweet on January 30, he writes: ‘There’s been a lot of conversation about information regarding Covid-19 on Spotify. We’ve heard the criticism and we’re implementing changes to help combat misinformation.’ The Tweet links to a page from the Spotify Newsroom, entitled, ‘Spotify’s Platform Rules and Approach to Covid-19’.
In it, Ek states that Spotify acknowledges it has ‘a critical role to play in supporting creator expression while balancing it with the safety of our users’, and recognizes ‘an obligation to do more to provide balance and access to widely-accepted information from the medical and scientific communities’. He goes on to set out three steps Spotify is taking in light of these concerns, explaining that the streaming service is ‘publishing our long-standing Platform Rules’; ‘working to add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about COVID-19’, which will ‘direct listeners to our dedicated Covid-19 Hub, a resource that provides easy access to data-driven facts… as shared by scientists, physicians, academics and public health authorities around the world’; and will soon ‘begin testing ways to highlight our Platform Rules in our creator and publisher tools to… help creators understand their accountability for the content they post’.
There’s been a lot of conversation about information regarding COVID-19 on Spotify. We’ve heard the criticism and we’re implementing changes to help combat misinformation. https://t.co/ic8jfR1RNR
— Daniel Ek (@eldsjal) January 30, 2022
After the three-hour episode aired in December, a coalition of several hundred ‘scientists, medical professionals, professors, and science communicators’ came together to sign an open letter to Spotify, cautioning against allowing people on the platform to ‘damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals’.
Their concerns were echoed beyond the scientific community by a number of celebrities, with Canadian musician Neil Young saying Spotify could choose ‘Rogan or Young’, but ‘not both’, while Joni Mitchell said she too would pull her music from the platform, stating: ‘Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives’.
US comedian Joe Rogan, who the Times reports signed an exclusive deal with Spotify in 2020 worth an alleged $100 million, defended two of his recent guests who have shared Covid-19 conspiracy theories as ‘highly credentialed … people [with] an opinion that’s different from the mainstream narrative’. He said, however, that he would ‘try harder to get people with differing opinions on’ and ‘do my best to make sure I’ve researched these topics’, adding: ‘I want to thank Spotify for being so supportive during this time, and I’m very sorry that this is happening to them and that they’re taking so much from it.’
Originally published on Tatler.com