Doctors and Scientists Call on Spotify to Create Policy of Disinformation

Doctors, health experts and scientists battle misinformation about COVID-19 on a daily basis. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have adopted policies aimed at reducing widespread misrepresentation, but some do not have rules in place. A group of 270 doctors, nurses, scientists and educators sent an open letter to Spotify following a recent episode of the Joe Rogan Experience, calling on the streaming service to adopt a clear policy and fulfill its “responsibility to mitigate the spread of disinformation.”

In the December 31 episode of his podcast, Joe Rogan interviewed Dr. Robert Malone, a virologist who claims to be one of the creators of mRNA technology. It is not clear if it is true. During the conversation, Malone made baseless claims about COVID-19, including the idea that “mass-forming psychosis” led people to believe vaccines were effective and the idea that the President Biden had withheld data that supported ivermectin as a valid treatment. The episode quickly went viral among critics and fans, with Rogan averaging over 10 million listeners per episode. Youtube deleted a video from the interview and Malone was recently banned from twitter for violations of the platform’s COVID-19 disinformation policy.

“By allowing the spread of false and socially damaging claims, Spotify enables its hosted media to undermine public confidence in scientific research and cast doubt on the credibility of data-driven advice offered by professionals. of health. ” the letter explains. “[The episode] is not the only transgression to occur on the Spotify platform, but a relevant example of the platform’s failure to mitigate the damage it causes. “

In April, The Verge reported that Spotify was okay with an episode of Rogan in which he encouraged 21-year-olds not to get vaccinated. A company source said the post was not “outwardly anti-vaccine” and did not “call for action.” the one on board Ashley Carman wrote at the time. Spotify has removed more explicit examples of vaccine misinformation, including a song by musician Ian Brown and a podcast by Pete Evans. The company has said in the past that it “bans content on the platform that promotes false, misleading, or deceptive dangerous content about COVID-19 that may cause harm offline and / or pose a direct health threat public “. And that when something violates these guidelines, it gets deleted.

However, as this open letter points out, Spotify does not have an official disinformation policy like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others. The group is asking the platform to do just that, rather than taking action against Rogan directly or removing the episode in question. They want society to create rules that would hold podcast creators accountable for the content of their shows.

Spotify paid $ 100 million for the lockdown The Joe Rogan Experience as an exclusive podcast in 2020. The show was the most popular on the platform in 2021, in the US and globally. When Rogan was criticized for his choice of guests, including another example of pandemic disinformation in an episode with Alex Jones, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said the platform had no editorial responsibility for podcasts.

“We also have a lot of highly paid rappers on Spotify who make tens of millions of dollars, if not more, every year from Spotify.” I told Axios. “And we don’t dictate what they put in their songs either.”

Spotify did not respond to Engadget’s request for comment on the open letter and the company’s disinformation policies.

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