A group of 270 doctors, health experts and scientists have sent an open letter to Spotify. The music service does not have a clear policy against the spread of disinformation, unlike YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, for example. With fewer rules, popular podcasts like comedian Joe Rogan’s can broadcast harmful nonsense to millions of listeners.
Criticized virologist guest
The doctors wrote their letter in response to a recent podcast episode of Joe Rogan. In it, virologist Dr. Robert Malone guest. He claims without proof that he is the inventor of the mRNA technology used in various corona vaccines. Malone claims that the people suffer from a ‘mass psychosis’ that makes them believe in the effectiveness of the vaccine.
According to Malone, US President Biden also withheld data about the effect of the drug ivermectin. That is a drug against intestinal worms, which according to conspiracy theorists would help against corona – that is not the case.
YouTube has removed a video of Rogan’s interview with Malone for misinformation. Malone was recently banned from Twitter for spreading disinformation about corona.
‘Damage trust in science’
“By allowing the dissemination of false and socially harmful claims, Spotify allows its media to damage public confidence in scientific research and cast doubt on the credibility of medical professionals,” the doctors and scientists write.
The letter cites Rogan’s specific episode as an example, but states that that is “not the only violation on the Spotify platform”, “but a pertinent example of the platform’s failure to mitigate the damage it causes”.
Sometimes Spotify intervenes
Spotify has previously been criticized for corona statements in Rogan’s podcast. He encouraged 21-year-old listeners last year not to get vaccinated against corona. A source within Spotify then told The Verge that Spotify did not penalize the ruling, because it was not “apparently anti-vaccination”.
Spotify has previously acted against more emphatic criticism of corona policy. An anti-lockdown song by singer Ian Brown was removed because he claims the vaccine contains a microchip. A year ago, Australian conspiracy theorist Pete Evans’ podcast was removed from Spotify, also for spreading nonsense about corona.
‘No substantive responsibility’
However, there is no official line at Spotify, and that is what the doctors and scientists are now arguing for. They therefore do not so much argue against the episode of Rogan, but use it as an example. If there are clear rules, podcast creators can all be treated according to those same rules.
Spotify has not yet responded to the open letter. Earlier, CEO Daniel Ek said Spotify has no substantive responsibility for Rogan’s popular podcast.
Rogan’s podcast is one of the most listened to podcasts in the world, and in 2020 Spotify reportedly paid $100 million to exclusively sign Rogan.