Spotify CEO Daniel Ek on Sunday revealed updated platform rules and a new approach to dealing with COVID-19 information, including adding a dedicated content advisory to podcast episodes that contain discussions about the virus.
A statement, posted to Spotify’s website, began by noting that the audio service was created “to enable the work of creators around the world to be heard and enjoyed by listeners around the world. To our very core, we believe that listening is everything.”
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The tech giant clarified that users have had questions over the last few days about policies “and the lines we have drawn between what is and isn’t acceptable.” While the statement did not reference any specific instances, it comes in the wake of musician Neil Young deciding to remove his music from Spotify due to COVID-19 misinformation appearing on the platform.
The Joe Rogan Experience, a Spotify exclusive podcast which has received backlash for repeatedly sharing misinformation, last December interviewed known vaccine skeptic, Dr. Robert Malone, who promoted baseless theories about COVID vaccines.
Soon after Young made the decision to pull his music, the move was followed by Joni Mitchell and Bruce Springsteen guitarist Nils Lofgren, who will both be removing music in solidarity. The musicians referred to an open letter sent to Spotify from 270 professionals in the scientific and medical communities, calling on the streaming service to address misinformation distributed on the platform.
“We have had rules in place for many years but admittedly, we haven’t been transparent around the policies that guide our content more broadly,” Ek’s statement continued. “This, in turn, led to questions around their application to serious issues including COVID-19.”
Based on feedback, Spotify explained that it has “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.”
Ek noted that its content advisory will direct listeners to a dedicated COVID-19 resource to access the latest facts and information shared by medical and scientific professionals and trusted health authorities around the world. “This new effort to combat misinformation will roll out to countries around the world in the coming days,” he wrote. “To our knowledge, this content advisory is the first of its kind by a major podcast platform.”
Spotify will also publish its core platform rules to its own newsroom, where they will live permanently. In addition, the platform will be testing ways to highlight its rules to creators and publishers and increase awareness of what is acceptable.
“I trust our policies, the research and expertise that inform their development, and our aspiration to apply them in a way that allows for broad debate and discussion, within the lines,” wrote Ek. We take this seriously and will continue to partner with experts and invest heavily in our platform functionality and product capabilities for the benefit of creators and listeners alike.”