San Francisco: Music streaming platform Spotify announced on Sunday that it would start guiding listeners of podcasts discussing COVID-19 to more information about the pandemic, after a controversy that saw artist Neil Young take down his music from the app, NDTV reported.
The development comes after artists, led by Young, earlier this week demanded that Spotify remove their music or drop podcaster Joe Rogan after a call from medical professionals to stop Rogan from promoting “several falsehoods about Covid-19 vaccines.”
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have also raised concerns over the misinformation on the music streaming platform, but reiterated their commitment to continue using it to share their content.
“We are working to add a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about Covid-19,” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said in a statement.
“This advisory will direct listeners to our dedicated Covid-19 Hub, a resource that provides easy access to data-driven facts, up-to-date information as shared by scientists, physicians, academics and public health authorities around the world, as well as links to trusted sources.”
In addition, Ek said the firm would publish its “Platform Rules”, which include guidelines for creators on what Spotify labels “dangerous” and “deceptive” content.
The “new effort to combat misinformation” would launch in the next few days, he added.
Rogan, 54, has discouraged vaccination in young people and advocated the off-label use of the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin to treat the corona-virus.
$100 million deal
The podcaster, who has a $100 million (90 million euros) multi-year deal with the platform, was kept on, and the company complied to Young’s demand and started taking down his catalogue of songs.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, meanwhile, reiterated they were “committed to continuing” their content deal despite “concerns” over misinformation.
“We have continued to express our concerns to Spotify to ensure changes to its platform are made to help address this public health crisis,” a spokesperson for Archewell, the Duke and Duchess’ organisation, said in a statement.
“We look to Spotify to meet this moment and are committed to continuing our work together as it does.”
In a video shared on his Instagram profile, Rogan expressed disappointment that Young and Mitchell had pulled their music from Spotify, and tried to explain why his podcast had triggered row.
He specifically mentioned two episodes, during which he interviewed a cardiologist, and a virologist who had worked on mRNA technology, the same method used to create several Covid-19 vaccines.
“They have an opinion that’s different from the mainstream narrative. I wanted to hear what their opinion is,” Rogan said.
Rather than spreading misinformation, Rogan stressed he was “interested in telling the truth, I’m interested in finding out what the truth is, and I’m interested in having interesting conversations with people that have differing opinions.”
He also lauded Spotify’s decision to add a content advisory to pandemic-related episodes of any podcast.
Spotify expressed “regret” over Young’s decision but cited a need to balance “both safety for listeners and freedom for creators”.
Spotify’s move attracted admiration online from organisations including video-streaming platform Rumble, which credited the Swedish company with “defending creators” and standing “up for free speech”.
But Young, 76, also drew wide appreciation for taking a stand, including from the World Health Organization chief.
The musician also called upon other artists to follow his lead, and calls for boycotts and cancelled subscriptions flourished on social media.
In recent years, social media giants including Facebook and YouTube have received criticism for allowing conspiracy theorists to promote their views.