Last week, UFC commentator and former Fear Factor host Joe Rogan finally crossed the line with the spread of misinformation through his popular ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’ podcast that Canadian artist Neil Young removed his music from Spotify in protest.
In an effort to smooth out the situation, the streaming service has implemented a new tag to help viewers understand that the information within some of the podcasts streamed through the platform may be untrue. Spotify also reworked its platform rules to make it easier to ban content that asserts that COVID, AIDS, or any other life-threatening illness are hoaxes.
Spotify’s response is crucial in this instance because the streaming music platform bought the exclusive rights to the Joe Rogan podcast in 2020 in a deal worth more than $100 million USD (roughly $127 million CAD). Since then, Rogan and Spotify have come under fire several times related to the spread of COVID-19-related misinformation on the show. Earlier this year, more than 270 doctors and other health care experts signed a joint letter condemning Spotify and Rogan for the COVID misinformation shared on the podcast.
For example, in 2021 Spotify reviewed an episode where Rogan stated that those under the age of 21 should not get the COVID-19 vaccine. The company deemed that episode fine at the time, but this latest bout of fake information has hit the streaming platform financially, resulting in a $2.1 billion USD (roughly $2.6 billion CAD) loss in its market cap over three days.
Rogan himself has also come out and apologized to an extent, though his almost 10-minute Instagram video seems out of touch with the situation and seems to be shifting the blame off himself even though he orchestrated the situation.
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Rogan also mentions that his podcast episode with Dr. Robert Malone (MD) has been marked with the Spotify COVID-19 misinformation tagline at the start of the show. Rogan goes on to say that he promises to try and balance the opinions on his show more in the future.
A few other artists beyond Young have also pulled their music from Spotify, including Joni Mitchell.