Joe Rogan pledges to ‘try harder’ as Spotify announces plan to tackle Covid-19 misinformation | Spotify

Joe Rogan addressed the controversy on his Spotify podcast, hours after the streaming service announced a plan to tackle the spread of Covid-19 misinformation.

In a 10-minute video posted to Instagram on Sunday night, the comedian and host pledged to “try harder to appeal to people with differing opinions” and “do my best to make sure I have research these topics.

“A lot of people … have a distorted perception of what I do,” he said, defending two recent episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience which featured guests who shared Covid conspiracy theories. He called these guests “highly qualified people… [with] an opinion that is different from the traditional narrative.

Rogan billed his podcast – which reaches around 11 million listeners per episode – as “just conversations” that “started out as… having fun and talking”.

“It became what it is today, which is an out-of-control juggernaut that I barely control,” he said. “A lot of times I have no idea what I’m going to talk about until I sit down and talk to people.

“I will do my best in the future to balance things out.”

He also apologized to Spotify. “I want to thank Spotify for their support during this time, and I’m so sorry this happened to them and they got so much out of it.”

The episodes sparked a new wave of fury, including from musicians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, who pulled their music from Spotify in the process.

“I’m not mad at Neil Young,” Rogan said, describing himself as a longtime fan of the singer.

Earlier on Sunday, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek released an official statement outlining the streaming platform’s plan to tackle misinformation as more users publicly unsubscribe from the service, more musicians pulled their music and the company lost billions of dollars in the market. value.

New content notices will direct listeners of any podcast discussing the coronavirus to a dedicated website that “provides easy access to data-based facts, up-to-date information shared by scientists, doctors, academics and authorities public health information from around the world, as well as links to reliable sources”.

Spotify’s rules for its creators have also been made public for the first time, with users being told they cannot post “content that promotes dangerous false or misleading medical information that may cause offline harm or constitute a direct threat to public health”.

Examples include calling Covid “a hoax or not real” or “encouraging people to deliberately become infected with Covid-19 in order to build immunity”. Users who violate the rule could have their content removed from the platform and repeat offenders could be suspended or banned.

“You’ve had a lot of questions over the past few days about our platform policies and the lines we’ve drawn between what’s acceptable and what’s not. We’ve had rules in place for many years, but it is true that we have not been transparent about the policies that guide our content more broadly,” Ek said in his statement.

Ek wrote that the content notices will be rolling out “worldwide in the coming days.”

“To our knowledge, this content advisory is the first of its kind by a major podcast platform,” he added.

Rogan’s podcast has drawn criticism for repeatedly spreading misinformation about Covid, including the conspiracy theory that hospitals are financially incentivized to record Covid as a cause of death. Rogan has also promoted the use of ivermectin, an antiparasitic treatment used primarily on animals, to treat Covid symptoms. It has not been proven to be effective in preventing or treating Covid.

Last week, musician Neil Young asked his management to remove his music from Spotify: “I am doing this because Spotify is spreading false information about vaccines – potentially causing the death of those who believe the misinformation is spread by them … They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”

After removing his music, Spotify said it “regrets Neil’s decision…but hope to see him again soon.” Their shares fell 6% in two days, then recovered slightly – before musician Joni Mitchell announced she would also be pulling her music from the platform.

“Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people’s lives,” Mitchell wrote. “I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue.”

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who signed a multi-year podcast partnership with Spotify for their business, Archewell Audio, said in a statement that they raised concerns about misinformation at Spotify last year.

“We have continued to raise our concerns to Spotify to ensure changes are made to its platform to help address this public health crisis. We look to Spotify to meet this moment and are committed to continuing our work together as it does,” a spokesperson for the couple said.

As of Sunday, Spotify had lost more than US$2bn (£1.5bn) in market value and removed more than 20,000 episodes of Covid-19-related podcasts, in accordance with its “detailed content policies”.

Calls on social media for people to cancel their Spotify subscriptions have intensified over the past week. The company didn’t reveal how many users remain, but a message from its customer support team to subscribers said they were “getting a lot of contacts and may be slow to respond.”

Spotify acquired the show from Rogan in 2020, in a deal worth over $100 million. The Joe Rogan Experience is now Spotify’s most popular podcast and one of the largest in the world.

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