UPDATE, March 29: Spotify’s COVID “content advisory” was supposed to start showing up on February 2, but CNBC noticed it just started appearing now for users.
For the past few weeks, the role Spotify has played in the continued spread of dangerous misinformation about COVID-19 and the various COVID vaccines has come into the spotlight, first when a group of medical professionals banded together to call on the music and podcast streaming platform to do something—anything—after Joe Rogan invited a noted anti-vaccine activist on to his show, Spotify’s landmark series The Joe Rogan Experience.
Shortly after that, Neil Young declared that he would take his music off of Spotify if the streamer didn’t do anything about Rogan giving a platform to people with dangerous and inaccurate talking points, and he then made good on that threat a few days later (with Joni Mitchell joining him). Then, someone leaked Spotify’s COVID misinformation policy, which apparently allows everything short of outright denying that the virus exists or claiming that vaccines are purposefully designed to kill everyone.
Now, in a move that may seem oddly familiar to anyone who remember who social media platforms handled another famous asshole with a penchant for lying to people, Spotify has announced that it will put a “content advisory” on “any podcast episode that includes a discussion about COVID-19.” Please note that it doesn’t say anything about anti-vaccine people or anyone willfully spreading misinformation about the virus, just “any podcast episode.”
The advisory will send listeners to Spotify’s COVID-19 hub, which—wouldn’t you know it?—does not include The Joe Rogan Experience. But you’ll be listening to a podcast, which is not generally when you want to stop and go listen to something else. So this seems like a pretty empty gesture that ultimately means nothing and will probably do nothing to combat the spread of misinformation on Rogan’s show and shows like it, but at least Spotify (according to its statement announcing this) is aware 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.”
It’s just going to do that while also giving Joe Rogan a lot of money for his stupid show. Anyway, this all comes from The Hollywood Reporter, which adds that Spotify says its “new effort to combat misinformation will roll out to countries around the world in the coming days.”