Spotify’s CEO: We won’t be a censor, but we do have rules – CNET

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek speaks during a Samsung Unpacked event in August 2018.

Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Samsung

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek on Sunday spoke out publicly about the controversy that blew up in the past week over the Joe Rogan podcast and COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, after famed rocker Neil Young pulled his music from the streaming service.

He noted in a blog post that Spotify subscribers and the medical and scientific communities have had questions about the company’s policies and “the lines we have drawn between what is acceptable and what is not.” He also acknowledged that Spotify hasn’t been transparent about the policies about content that it hosts.

“It’s become clear to me,” Ek wrote, “that we have an obligation to do more to provide balance and access to widely-accepted information from the medical and scientific communities guiding us through this unprecedented time.”

In his blog post, Ek didn’t mention Rogan or Young by name.

Spotify is taking three steps, Ek said.

  • It’s publishing its long-standing platform rules.
  • It’s working toward adding a content advisory to any podcast episode that includes a discussion about COVID-19.
  • It will begin testing ways to highlight the platform rules in its creator and publisher tools to raise awareness around what’s acceptable and help creators understand their accountability for the content they post.

Spotify is the exclusive platform for Rogan’s podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, in a deal worth $100 million. In the past year, Rogan has had multiple people against vaccines and conspiracy theorists on his podcast. These guests pushed unproven treatments such as ivermectin, while also spreading false information about the COVID-19 vaccines.

COVID-19 vaccines have been proven safe and effective against severe disease, hospitalization and death.

Earlier this month, a letter from more than 250 medical professionals, professors and researchers called for Spotify to stop the spread of COVID misinformation on its platform and pointed to the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Since then, more than a thousand other professionals have signed the letter.   

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