Spotify’s handling of Covid-19 Misinformation

Spotify has come under fire recently over concerns of Covid-19 misinformation spreading on its platform. These issues have always been around for social media companies like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites. Following the 2012 US election, Facebook faced backlash for allegedly having a heavy influence on the results and aiding the Obama administration to win1. Later, MIT did a study on Twitter where statistics show that fake news spreads up to 70% faster than facts2


Recently, Joe Rogan, the host of the most popular podcast worldwide, is the focus of conversation after he brought a doctor on his podcast to discuss vaccination. Rogan’s podcast has an estimated 11 million listeners, with this episode getting an additional 25,000 shares. The issue is that Twitter banned the doctor from Rogan’s podcast, Dr. Robert Malone, because he promoted virus-related misinformation and undermined the effectiveness of vaccines.The number of views is concerning because Dr. Malone’s academic standing convinced even highly educated listeners that, “If you get vaccinated after having had Covid, you’re at greater risk of harmful side effects. During the pandemic, an influx of fake news became more of an issue because it could lead people to make harmful decisions about their bodies or pressure others into doing so themselves. 


In response, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have introduced cautionary labels where information gets fact-checked by a third party and clearly labeled as fake news. This way, the user has to read the warning before viewing the post and again if they try to share it. So Spotify decided to put a “consent advisory label” on media concerning Covid-19, which is a step in the right direction. Many argue it is still not enough to stop the spread of misinformation. 


On the other hand, the entire problem with taking action against this issue is the line between content moderation and censorship. Whether or not the podcast will face repercussions is up to Spotify because while their opinions represent their thoughts as individuals, those thoughts ultimately reflect Spotify’s thoughts. 


Spotify needs to take action and either raise the consequences of purposefully misinforming people or take a stance about creator liberties before this issue inevitably happens again. 


By Ekjot Sahota

  1. Did Facebook Give Democrats the Upper Hand? – The Atlantic 
  2. Study: On Twitter, false news travels faster than true stories


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