Here’s what’s happened so far

Amid the ongoing scandal surrounding Covid-19 misinformation about the Joe Rogan experience and allegations of racism, Joe Rogan and Spotify CEO Daniel Ek issued an apology for the content of the podcast.

The company has now removed over 113 episodes of Joe Rogan’s podcast. Here’s what’s happened so far in the Spotify-Joe Rogan saga:

Joe Rogan and Covid-19 misinformation

In an episode of Rogan’s podcast published Dec. 31, virologist Dr. Robert Malone espoused many false beliefs, including the claim that vaccine effectiveness is due to “mass-forming psychosis.” The virologist, who claims to be one of the inventors of mRNA technologies, has already been banned from Twitter for spreading Misinformation about Covid-19. More than 270 doctors sent an open letter to Spotify during the episode, referencing the Joe Rogan experience as “threat to public health”.

In an episode of Rogan’s podcast released Dec. 31, virologist Dr. Robert Malone espoused many false beliefs. (File Image)

“By allowing the spread of false and socially harmful claims, Spotify is enabling its hosted media to undermine public trust in scientific research and cast doubt on the credibility of data-based advice offered by professionals. of health,” the letter reads.

On January 24, Canadian-American singer Neil Young threatened to pull his music from the platform if they didn’t remove the Joe Rogan Experience from their platform. Singer Joni Mitchell has also threatened to remove her music from the platform.

Spotify releases details of ‘Covid-19 policy’

The controversy forced Spotify’s hand to release its content policy regarding Covid-19 January 30. He revealed that he has rules in place to stop harmful messages regarding the pandemic. But it will only take action against creators if the content falls into two categories: either it must claim the pandemic is a hoax, or it must be content that encourages people to deliberately infect themselves.

Apparently exploiting a loophole in its own policy, the platform decided not to take any action against Joe Rogan. Most social media platforms use a combination of soft and hard remedies to deal with misinformation. YouTube and Twitter have a strike system where content creators receive a scale of penalties based on how many times their content violates the policy.

This reactive regulatory approach advocates the use of soft remedies before moving on to more permanent measures, including account termination. It may be well-suited to combat disinformation “superspreaders,” which is important given a recent report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which found that 12 people are responsible for 73% of disinformation on social media platforms.

In his initial defense of the podcast and Spotify’s inaction, Daniel Ek claimed the company was a combination of a publisher and a platform in what appeared to be an attempt to absolve him of liability for the content it hosts. However, many pointed out that Spotify cannot escape responsibility for the content, given that it pays some of the hosts millions of dollars. In Rogan’s case, the deal is worth $100 million.

In terms of content moderation, Spotify has started to take a similar approach to Facebook, focusing its efforts on labeling content with warnings and directing users to information centers instead of taking concrete action against it. the creators.

Racism allegations and removal of episodes

After surviving Young’s decision and its seemingly unfazed fallout, Rogan’s podcast found itself mired in yet another controversy when a compilation of clips of Rogan using a racial slur during his podcast went viral.

Unlike the previous controversy, the former UFC fighter couldn’t quite duck and get away from this one. After agreeing to remove some of the offending episodes, the controversial host uploaded a five-minute apology video to Instagram on Saturday.

“It’s a video made out of clips taken out of my 12-year-old context of my podcast, and it looks… awful, even to me. There is no context where a white person is ever allowed to say that word. It doesn’t matter publicly on a podcast,” Rogan can be heard conceding in the video.

He also attempted to play down the incident by saying the whole story wasn’t “racist”, while admitting it was “a silly thing to say”.

Note from Spotify CEO to staff

On Monday, February 7, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek addressed the latest issue in a note he sent to company staff: “There are no words I can say to adequate how deeply sorry I am for the way the Joe Rogan Experience controversy continues to impact. each of you. Not only are some of Joe Rogan’s comments incredibly hurtful, but I want to make it clear that they do not represent the values ​​of this company.”

However, Ek also clarified that Spotify would not deplatform the creator who would have a licensing agreement with the company.

“I don’t believe silencing Joe is the answer. We should have clear lines around content and take action when they’re crossed, but canceling videos is a slippery slope,” he said He also announced a commitment from Spotify to invest $100 million in the production and marketing of music and audio content from marginalized groups.

Rumble and other alternative platforms

Meanwhile, Canadian online video platform Rumble threw its hat in the ring yesterday when it offered $100 million to Joe Rogan for putting his content on their platform.

Rumble is a Canadian online video platform founded in 2013 by Chris Pavlovski, (Photo: Rumble)

“We are with you, your guests and your legion of fans in the desire for a real conversation. So we’d like to offer you 100 million reasons to make the world a better place,” Rumble CEO Chris Pavlovski said in his open letter to Rogan posted on Twitter by the handle Rumble.

“How about bringing all of your shows to Rumble, old and new, uncensored, for $100 million over four years,” he said. So clearly, there are plenty of platforms or publishers who would jump at the chance to attract Rogan’s 11 million listeners.

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