Spotify Technology SA outlined steps it will take to halt the spread of misleading information about Covid-19 on its audio-streaming service in an attempt to quell a growing controversy over its support for the podcast host Joe Rogan.
Spotify published internal rules Sunday governing what content is and isn’t allowed on its service, and CEO Daniel Ek said in a blog post that the company will add an advisory to any podcast episode that addresses the coronavirus. That advisory will direct listeners to a hub offering more information about the pandemic.
The company is trying to end a mounting insurrection among a vocal minority of users and musicians without alienating its most popular podcaster. Folk singers Neil Young and Joni Mitchell pulled their music from Spotify last week in protest of Rogan, a popular podcaster who has hosted several outspoken skeptics of the Covid-19 vaccines.
Spotify created rules governing acceptable content on its service years ago and built a hub with Covid-19 information early in the pandemic. While those policies have been accessible for employees, the company didn’t make them public until Sunday after a series of scandals jeopardized its business.
“We have had rules in place for many years but admittedly, we haven’t been transparent around the policies that guide our content more broadly,” Ek wrote in the blog post. “This, in turn, led to questions around their application to serious issues including Covid-19.”
Both Young and Mitchell suffered from polio as children, and their rebuke of Spotify followed a letter from more than 200 medical professionals criticizing the company as well. Social-research professor Brene Brown said Saturday she would stop releasing new episodes of her podcast until further notice, though she didn’t specify why.
A Spotify spokesperson said it is the first major podcasting service to publish content guidelines and that it would work to refine them in the years ahead. The number of podcasts on Spotify has ballooned to more than 3 million shows over the past few years, and the company is still creating its best practices for evaluating them.