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Should Spotify pull Joe Rogan’s podcast?

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Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University
Stock photo of Joe Rogan’s podcast on Spotify on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022.

Spotify has pledged to add an advisory to content that addresses COVID-19, the latest development in a standoff that has made the world’s largest music and podcast streaming platform another testing ground for the controversy over misinformation. But is it enough?

“From a research perspective, it is totally unclear to me how the practice of applying labels can be effective in an audio environment,” says John Wihbey, associate professor of media innovation and strategy at Northeastern, who studies misinformation online. “New techniques and technologies will need to be developed and tested rigorously to handle these problems. Otherwise, attempts to warn users can be just window dressing.”

The news comes after several prominent artists, including Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and Nils Lofgren, said they would remove their music from Spotify as long as the platform continues to host provocative podcaster Joe Rogan, who has questioned the need for young people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus and has hosted guests on his show who have  promoted conspiracy theories about the pandemic.

It’s worth noting that Spotify doesn’t just host Rogan’s podcast. It paid more than $100 million for the exclusive rights to “The Joe Rogan Experience” back in 2020—one of the largest such deals in podcasting, and a move that has earned Spotify significant ad revenue.

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