Daily Column – 31st January 2022

But not on Spotify, I’m sorry to say.

Spotify took a number of steps yesterday to try to calm the growing storm after Young and other artists took their music off the site because Spotify was spreading false information about Covid-19.

It’s adding a label to any podcast episode that talks about Covid-19 and giving a link to its Covid hub.

It’s also revealing its misinformation policies that had been kept secret before. They are: Spotify said it will ban content that “promotes dangerous false or dangerous deceptive medical information that may cause offline harm or poses a direct threat to public health.” This means Spotify will not allow this kind of content. People say that Covid-19 isn’t real, and they say that Covid vaccines are made to kill people, too.

For many years, Spotify has had rules, but “admittedly, we haven’t been very clear about how our content is regulated.” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek wrote in a blog post.

How we came to be here

Last week, Neil Young asked Spotify to remove his music because of its deal with popular podcaster Joe Rogan, who has been sceptical of Covid vaccines and has hosted guests who have pushed Covid conspiracy theories. Spotify agreed to let Rogan use his show to promote his show.

His example led to a small group of artists, but they kept getting bigger.

One of the best-known singers in the world, Joni Mitchell, took her music off Spotify “in support of Neil Young and global scientific and medical communities.”

People who play guitar for Bruce Springsteen have joined the boycott. Brené Brown says she won’t be making any podcasts “until further notice.”

Covid misinformation is being spread on Spotify by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who signed a $25 million podcast deal with the platform, a Spotify spokesperson says.

“Neutral platform”: Spotify wants to be known as a place where different ideas can run freely without being stopped. The company’s relationship with Joe Rogan doesn’t fit into this storey, say people like Hunter Walk. In the end, Spotify decided to treat Rogan as a strategic business partner rather than just another podcaster who uploads their content to the platform.

As a result, it’s not clear whether Spotify’s recent changes will make its critics go away. One of those critics isn’t going anywhere, though. Spotify says that none of his podcast episodes have broken its rules against Covid misinformation.

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