Spotify to add content warnings to podcasts covering Covid-19

spotify on a phone next to a laptop and a pair of headphones
(Image credit: Future Publishing)

Audio streaming giant Spotify has today responded to mounting controversy surrounding Covid vaccine misinformation by stating it will add content advisory warnings to any podcasts on the platform that cover the topic of the pandemic.

In a blog post from CEO Daniel Ek, it was also announced that the service has published its 'platform rules', the first time it's made public the content guidelines that it upholds for its content creators – both exclusive Spotify partners and any other contributor that shares on the platform.

Among these guidelines, there is a section dedicated to disallowing "Content that promotes dangerous false or dangerous deceptive medical information that may cause offline harm or poses a direct threat to public health".

Under this section, Spotify specifically cites the following as going against its rules: "asserting that [...] Covid-19 [...] is a hoax or not real", "promoting or suggesting that vaccines approved by local health authorities are designed to cause death", and "encouraging people to purposely get infected with Covid-19 in order to build immunity to it".

The controversy

The controversy stems from the platform hosting The Joe Rogan Experience – a podcast in which the eponymous host has claimed healthy young people don't need the vaccine (as covered by Media Matters). It should be noted that the above guidelines from Spotify neatly avoid this specific case.

Singer-songwriter Neil Young recently made an ultimatum with the streaming service, threatening he would remove the entirety of his music catalog from the platform if action wasn't taken against The Joe Rogan Experience. The artist then followed through with his threat, with other big names like Joni Mitchell following suit.

No doubt Spotify's hesitance to act directly on Joe Rogan's podcast is largely a result of the exclusivity deal brokered between the two, estimated to have cost over $100 million in exchange for the ongoing series and its entire 11 years' worth of previous episodes.

Due to the controversy, Spotify's market value has plummeted $2 billion at the time of reporting. 

There's no word on a specific rollout date for the content warnings that Spotify intends to add to select podcasts, and time will tell if it will be enough to stem the tide of controversy.

Harry Domanski
Harry is an Australian Journalist for TechRadar with an ear to the ground for future tech, and the other in front of a vintage amplifier. He likes stories told in charming ways, and content consumed through massive screens. He also likes to get his hands dirty with the ethics of the tech.