Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan have joined the growing group of people expressing their concern to Spotify about COVID-19 misinformation on its platform, a spokesperson for their Archewell foundation said on Sunday (January 30).
Singer-songwriters Neil Young and Joni Mitchell are removing their music from Spotify in protest that the giant audio-streaming service has allowed the airing of misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, particular that propagated by podcaster Joe Rogan. Rogan signed an exclusive $100-million deal with Spotify in May 2020 for his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience.
Harry and Meghan signed a series of corporate deals, including to produce and host podcasts for Spotify, as part of their efforts to make a living following their split with Britain’s royal family announced in 2020.
Today their spokesperson said: “Hundreds of millions of people are affected by the serious harms of rampant mis- and disinformation every day. Last April, our co-founders began expressing concerns to our partners at Spotify about the all too real consequences of COVID-19 misinformation on its platform.
“We have continued to express our concerns to Spotify to ensure changes to its platform are made 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.”
Earlier this month, 270 scientists and medical professionals signed a letter urging Spotify to take action against Rogan, accusing him of spreading falsehoods on the podcast.
Contacted by Reuters on Sunday through its website, Spotify had no immediate comment.
The Swedish company has previously said it worked to balance “both safety for listeners and freedom for creators” and had removed more than 20,000 podcast episodes related to COVID-19 in accordance with its “detailed content policies”.
Young objected to his music being played on the same platform as Joe Rogan’s podcast. Rogan has stirred controversy with his views on the pandemic, government mandates and vaccines to control the spread of the coronavirus.
In an open letter (which has since been deleted) Young demanded Spotify take down all his songs unless Rogan’s episodes which contain false information about Covid vaccines are removed. Young said: “I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them” and added “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both”. He has since removed his music.
Afterwards, Young said: “I sincerely hope that other artists and record companies will move off the Spotify platform and stop supporting Spotify’s deadly misinformation about COVID.”
Already, others have followed suit, including Joni Mitchell and popular author and podcaster Brené Brown who said she will not be releasing any further podcasts for now. The Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl is rumoured to be about to follow suit. Bruce Springsteen’s guitarist Nils Lofgren has also removed 27 years’ worth of his music from Spotify, in solidarity.
According to Variety magainze, Spotify lost about $2.1-billion in the three days following Young’s departure from the platform.
Source: Reuters, The Verge
UPDATE 31 Jan 2022: Spotify says it will add advisory warnings to any podcasts that discuss Covid-19.
Joe Rogan posted this video on Instagram pledging to “try harder to get people with differing opinions on” his podcast, which reportedly reaches 11 million listeners per episode.
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