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Spotify labels potential misinformation – but doesn’t fight the misinformation

Labels will be rolled out, though we don't yet know when

Spotify

Over the past few days, tech news headlines have been dominated by Spotify amid a debate about COVID-19 misinformation on Joe Rogan’s podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience. The debate’s not over yet, as over the weekend the company put out a blog post outlining the company’s policy on Covid.

In the blog post written by Spotify CEO, Daniel Ek, the company explained it would begin rolling out content advisory messages to podcasts discussing the pandemic, “in the coming days”. We don’t yet know exactly when this will be, though Spotify promises the feature will be rolled out globally.

These content advisory messages will link to Spotify’s COVID hub, a resource filled with the latest information on the pandemic from trusted sources. It’ll work very similarly to Twitter’s content advisory warnings, which crop up on tweets about the pandemic.

Spotify claims this is the first content advisory system put in place by any major podcast platform. It’s unclear whether these warnings will be manually applied to podcasts, or if they’ll be automatically applied when a podcast episode mentions Covid.

In the same blog post, Ek explained that Spotify wanted to avoid censoring content, but wants to ensure there are policies in place that must be followed. He further explained that Spotify hopes these new steps will encourage discussion “in a way that allows for broad debate and discussion, within the lines”. Quite what “within the lines” means, Ek didn’t elaborate further. There’s an interesting dimension here in that Joe Rogan’s podcast is a Spotify exclusive, which it paid handsomely for.

This latest move from the streaming platform comes after Joni Mitchell joined Neil Young in pulling music from Spotify on Saturday. Both artists removed their music from Spotify in response to the company’s stance on Covid misinformation in podcasts. Other big names are also concerned about the situation.

Despite artists removing their music from the platform and the rollout of this latest feature, Spotify still hasn’t responded directly to The Joe Rogan Experience, the podcast which started this whole debate. It remains to be seen how the step towards content advisory labels will be taken by either side of the debate.